Claire Graves, Senior HS2 Project and Stakeholder Manager on her final day in the role gives her thoughts on the HS2 Phase Two Route Consultation and how the National Trust is affected:
Well, the deadline has arrived, and we’ve submitted our response, all 125 pages of it – check it out.
Our overall position on HS2 has not changed, we are neither for nor against it in principle, but the proposed route of phase two has some massive impacts on special places in our care. And we’ve made it clear in our response that those impacts will need serious mitigation.
Hardwick is top on our list of priorities, as the route of HS2 bisects our estate here. And yes, there is some pragmatic sense in using the existing M1 corridor, thereby keeping the harm in one place, but HS2 is misguided in arguing that its location next to the M1 means it will not add to the harm.
We are also sure that the Government’s appointed agencies should work together. HS2 Ltd and the Highways Agency must coordinate their efforts to ensure mitigation measures are put in place for their cumulative impacts.
Elsewhere, we are concerned about the impacts of the Manchester airport spur, as the route squeezes between Dunham Massey and Tatton Park, and the potential scale of infrastructure required to take the line over the Manchester Ship Canal.
There is not enough information available at this stage about the New Crofton rolling stock depot, close to Nostell Priory, so we are unclear about the potential impacts.
And that seems to be the overall theme – not enough detail or information. HS2 Ltd is confident that there will be no significant residual impacts on biodiversity, yet mitigation measures for this size and scale of development are untried, untested and unproven – all guesswork.
We know, of course, from our experience of phase 1, that environmental assessment comes after the final route is decided, and detailed design work comes way down the track (the puns are unavoidable), once the hybrid Bill becomes an act of parliament.
But while the battle continues to determine whether this country needs HS2, somebody needs to hold them to account. Should it go ahead, HS2 Ltd must be a piece of infrastructure of which the country can be proud.
So come on HS2, show us what you can do.