Today the Government released more details on its preferred route for HS2 from Crewe to Manchester and the West Midlands to Leeds along with refinements that have been made to this section of route, known as Phase 2b, following the 2013 route consultation.
Our HS2 project team has begun the process of assessing the detail contained within the Government’s consultation and at this stage we remain concerned that Phase 2b may have even greater impact than Phase 1 or Phase 2a on places looked after by the National Trust, and in terms of cultural heritage and the natural environment more widely.
Ben Middlemiss, Senior HS2 Project and Stakeholder Manager at the National Trust, said:
“Lots of places, including those we care for for everyone, will be directly and indirectly impacted by the design, construction and operation of HS2. Without adequate protection these places will suffer detrimental impacts and may see their special qualities eroded.”
“The details published by Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd today include seven major changes to the railway scheme. Of these, we are particularly interested and concerned by changes to the route alignment close to Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, south of Sheffield, and to the alignment of the railway at Crofton near Wakefield, close to Nostell Priory. Other changes to the route appear to increase the height and visibility of the railway close to Dunham Massey in Cheshire.”
“We believe that thorough, early assessment of impact, appropriate mitigation and excellent design will play a large part in the integration of HS2 into the landscape and we encourage the Government to continue to improve their approach in these areas.”
We welcome the fact that HS2 Ltd is consulting carefully over the impacts of these proposed changes to the railway, and we will respond in detail to these changes. It is unfortunate that HS2 Ltd feels it necessary to avoid consultation on some parts of the route that have changed since 2013, including as the railway passes close to the National Trust’s Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire.
At Hardwick HS2 plans will have severe and long-lasting effects on the heritage, landscape, wildlife and communities on and around our estate, and HS2 Ltd has yet to take the opportunity to treat this internationally important place appropriately through detailed consultation, good design, and full mitigation. The direct impact on important historic places in the area, not only Hardwick but Bolsover Castle, Sutton Scarsdale and Stainsby will be highly significant and we continue to work with neighbours in our approach to HS2 here.
Changes to the HS2 route and the New Crofton Rolling Stock Depot near Wakefield unacceptably appear to increase the impact on Nostell Priory from both permanent noise and visual effects, and through permanent and in-construction impact from increase local traffic. Communities neighbouring Nostell also stand to be highly disadvantaged.
While there may be some improvements from removal of the northern chord of the Manchester Junction, close to Dunham Massey near Altrincham, we still have serious concerns where the height of the line has been increased to the west of this historic estate, as it passes over the renowned Bridgewater canal. While we welcome changes to the alignment of the railway close to Tatton Park near Knutsford, sensitive hydrology of ecologically important meres remains a key factor for HS2 Ltd to consider. The increasing size of the HS2 crossing of the Manchester Ship Canal, which will be a highly visible feature in this landscape, will require great care over design to avoid blighting this valued outdoor space close to Manchester.
We will continue to monitor potential impacts at Calke Abbey near Derby, and Staunton Harold Church in Leicestershire.
Our team will continue to assess the impacts on our places in detail, but we encourage HS2 Ltd to meaningfully engage with us and those communities to ensure that visual, noise, traffic, dust and other effects of the railway are sensitively and thoroughly mitigated.