Some of the anger at the duplicity of HS2 Ltd is easily demonstrated in this open letter to its’ chairman.
To mark your visit to the High Speed Rail College in Doncaster today, I am writing to you this letter of protest at the way you have treated the communities along the proposed M18 Eastern Route and those along the secret refined Meadowhall route and original consulted Meadowhall route for your lack of honesty over the past year. As a Knight of the realm we would have thought you mind want to honour your promise of July 7th 2016 to treat the communities affected by HS2 with respect and openness.
Our Communities have invited you personally to visit us over the last year to explain the importance and impacts of the scheme you advocated since July last year. You have refused, yet are happy to visit the Rail College today just a few miles away. You must appreciate how worthless this makes the residents of Mexborough, Crofton, Bramley, and other HS2 communities feel.
As a first action we demand you write to a letter of apology for HS2 Limited withholding the map and details of the refined Meadowhall route from our communities during the 3 month consultation process when this secret route was the basis the comparison that formed the decision to move the route to M18 as now revealed in your advice to government (p 58 14.2.1)
This Contradicts you statements in the July 2016 Sheffield Station options report
We feel we have been grossly mislead by HS2 Ltd on the following grounds :
Clear evidence has now been published by HS2 Ltd to show that both the decision to change the route and the consultation has been so grossly unfair as to be unlawful.
A judicial review into Phase 1 was upheld when Justice Ouseley ruled that the consultees on the property consultation were provided with insufficient information as to be unlawful.
The nub of our case is that at NO TIME in the July Report or November route decision did HS2 or the Secretary of State disclose that the route comparison decision on grounds of cost, sustainability was actually being made between the unpublished REFINED Meadowhall route & the M18 Eastern Route, not the CONSULTED ROUTE, despite the claims of the Higgins Report as has now been stated in the explanatory documents.
The maps showing the route of the Refined Meadowhall (going through Crofton, Ryhill etc) were deliberately kept back and in so doing unfairly prevented consultees from the knowledge needed to challenge the route assumptions.
Namely that even if we had been successful in our opposition to M18 Eastern Route, Crofton would have been facing a VIRTUALLY identical route in the Refined Meadowhall Route!, kept secret from the public.
Added to the publication of the locations of the possible Parkway Stations at Hemsworth etc during the consultation, the whole consultation was unfairly biased against the consultees, including being time limited to 3 months compared to the original consultation.
The failure of HS2 Limited to acknowledge any cluster of residential demolitions in Crofton, even though their maps show c.10 properties under earthworks, and the admissions that they failed to consider the possibility of a Sheffield Midland Spur onto the Consulted Meadowhall route (as disclosed by Alistair Hassan in November 16 ) , and their admission that their own estimate of demolitions at Shimmer (55 homes) at the time of the July report was a conservative one – (meaning that the total of 74 at the time might have easily exceeded the 80 or 84 for the Meadowhall route) completely negate the fairness of the process we have gone through and the claim of significantly fewer residential demolitions. At no stage has any HS2 official given an accurate figure as to the total number of residential demolitions expected in Crofton/New Crofton.
At no stage did any HS2 official, or Government minister reveal that the Refined Route was on a similar alignment through Crofton in a year of communication and attempted communication. Lastly now that the Depot will hopefully be moving from Crofton, (our one victory, alongside the scrapping of the first route) there is no need for the route to go anywhere near us, and we await a response to the proposed M1 corridor route we suggested in the consultation, (as part of our 84 page report Rushed, Harmful & Misleading) which so far appears to have been lost.
It now also appears that village residents on the original consulted route have been kept in limbo for unnecessarily long period from 2015-17 as HS2 Limited had abandoned plans to run the route to West of the village and were planning a Eastern RSD alignment from a early stage pre-M18 (could you please indicate when this route refinement plan was adopted)
As the justification for the refined route and M18 was to partly reduce costs, we note that 29% of phase 1 is under tunnel compared to just 2% on Phase 2B – please indicate what would be the additional cost to the project of putting the cutting through New Crofton under cut and cover tunnel to mitigate noise and prevent the loss of Windmill Hill & partition of the village.
During the Consultation which 94% of respondees opposed the M18 route, we submitted plans for route alternatives in our 84 page communities report “Rushed, Harmful and Misleading” to the West of Barnsley along the M1 corridor with lower impacts and a shorter route, which have been ignored by HS2 Limited. Detailed proposals from a alternative scheme named High Speed UK were acknowledged but again ignored. While proposals for route realignment from Sheffield City Region were examined which might have saved the Shimmer Estate at the modest cost of £48m, these too were discarded due to cost grounds.
Under FOI we obtained from HS2 Limited a basic breakdown of cost comparison between Meadowhall route and M18, yet it was not disclosed that this was actually for the refined secret Meadowhall route which ran through Shafton, South Hiendley, Ryhill and New Crofton.
In the response to the Consultation, our claim that M18 Eastern Route was nearly identical to the previous Line of Route East of Rotherham was denied by HS2 Limited, yet we have documented letters from HS2 officials confirming that M18 Route was known as East of Rotherham and was sifted out in 2011.
We also note that our analysis of HS2’s projected residential demolitions along the routes shows the Meadowhall (Consulted) route has a 13.5% rate of demolition for properties with the 60m zone compared to only 7.4% within the M18 route. This anomaly suggests a serious and deliberate underestimation of demolitions on the M18 Eastern Route to justify the decision. Given that the Shimmer Estate estimate was a conservative one (ie 55) we feel that a mid point estimate would have projected the demolitions along the M18 at 94 – 17.5% above the comparator route and making the statements in the July report which carried your name a lie.
As a man of honour, we think you should now consider your position.