On 7 July, Chairman of HS2 Ltd Sir David Higgins published Sheffield and South Yorkshire Report 2016 which recommended changes to the route of HS2 serving Sheffield.
These are the first recommendations to change the route of HS2 Phase 2B since the proposed line of route from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds consultation which closed in January 2014.
The report recommends the introduction of a new section of line able to take ‘classic compatible’ services from the HS2 line north of Bolsover onto existing railway through Chesterfield into Sheffield city centre, removing the need for a HS2 station at Meadowhall and bringing completely new impacts on communities.
These recommendations would result in significant movement of the HS2 line to bring it within 350 metres of the parkland at Nostell, near Wakefield, and changes to the route both south and north of Hardwick, Derbyshire.
We are seriously concerned about the new position of the railway at Nostell as for much of its route there the line is elevated on either embankment or viaduct. This, along with the New Crofton Rolling Stock Depot, will introduce alien features into the landscape bringing noise and negative visual impacts for visitors to Nostell and the local community from lighting, railway infrastructure and passing trains as well as increases to local traffic.
We are also worried about the potential risk of water pollution, whilst the house’s important collection, which includes numerous significant paintings, extensive pieces of Chippendale furniture and the largest collection of silver in the care of the National Trust, is sensitive to any increases in dust.
At Hardwick a number of localised but significant changes in horizontal and vertical alignment and earthworks mean the overall the impact of the railway on Hardwick is likely to be somewhat different from the consultation route, and we are in the process of understanding this change.
In general the vertical alignment of the railway has been altered to produce a smoother gradient. This has been achieved by deepening cuttings at Deep Lane and Stanley Lane and by raising embankments and the viaduct at Mill Lane.
The alignment of the railway also has been brought closer to Bolsover Castle which we believe further worsens the impacts in this internationally significant landscape. We expect HS2 Ltd to respond to the seriousness of this situation with diligence and detail. We are, however, pleased that the changes appear to reduce impacts on the much loved Chesterfield Canal.
The impacts of these new proposals required further assessment and we will now take steps to fully understand how concerning these changes are for us. HS2 Ltd now need to rapidly and thoroughly assess, and then fully mitigate the impacts of the route. With our specialist team, we will challenge HS2 Ltd to do this sensitively and completely, and reserve our right to oppose the alignment of the route should we judge the mitigation proposed to be insufficient.
The National Trust believes that HS2 should be built to the highest environmental and design standards and are committed to engaging with HS2 Ltd to ensure that the best results are achieved.