Last week, Erewash Borough Council discussed their position on HS2. Despite two tory councillors breaking ranks and the plans as a whole being labelled as ‘unacceptable’ , the council as a whole decided not to vote to oppose HS2, but that after years of not being listened to by HS2 Ltd, they should try and make some suggestions for changes the plans which they somehow thought qualify as “mitigation”.
Subsequently, David Turnbull wrote to all of the councillors….
Having observed the EBC meeting on 13th December, for two and a half hours, one thing became distinctly apparent. Not one single councillor that spoke supported the construction of HS2 throughout the borough, and not one single councillor doubted the catastrophic impacts that HS2 will bring to Erewash. I genuinely believe that each and every councillor has the best interests of the Erewash population at heart, but knows full well the harm that will be brought to the area. And yet, despite two and a half hours of unified agreement of the detrimental impacts, the Council moved to accept HS2 plans, subject to the provision of the ‘hard-hitting’ mitigation proposals. Please consider the following rhetorical questions regarding the mitigation plan. For the avoidance of doubt, I have provided the answers.
Does the mitigation plan accept that the Working Draft Environmental Statement is poor, lacking in detail and contains significant omissions? Yes;
Does the mitigation plan acknowledge the devastating impact of HS2 upon the Borough? Yes;
Does the mitigation plan prevent the demolition of 173 residential dwellings? No (only 41);
Does the mitigation plan prevent the 24/7 noise and vibration dust and visual intrusion that heavy construction will cause to the wider Long Eaton / Sandiacre area? No;
Does the mitigation plan prevent the serious negative impact the disruption will cause local businesses? No;
Does the mitigation plan avert the detrimental impacts upon wellbeing that it is acknowledged HS2 will cause? No;
Does the mitigation plan prevent the detrimental impacts upon air quality and health of the residents that dust will bring? No;
Does the mitigation plan prevent the chaos that road closures and delays will cause during the torturous construction period (of at least 4 years)? No;
Does the mitigation plan suggest contingency planning if (when) the project construction timelines become exceeded? No;
Does the mitigation plan prevent the viaduct dissecting Long Eaton and working its way up the environmentally sensitive Erewash Valley? No;
Does the mitigation plan prevent surrounding population from avoiding travelling into Long Eaton to the detriment of local businesses and economy? No;
Does the mitigation plan prevent an increase in flood risk to residents of Sandiacre and Stapleford? No. There is a well-known phrase ‘you couldn’t make it up’. As a chartered member of the Institute of Water and Environmental Management, trust me, the suggested provision of an ‘open water body’ in the floodplain of the River Trent as mitigation for loss of floodplain storage suggests somebody somewhere within the council is indeed making things up. One of the reasons given to a public question for not building the tunnel as ‘it could flood from flood flows from the River Trent’ strengthens this belief that somebody is commenting on things they genuinely do not understand and is making completely unfounded judgements and statements.
Does the mitigation plan prevent the loss of Local Nature Reserves and wildlife sites (too many to list in this email)? No;
Has the mitigation plan assessed the impact of suggested increase in high level connections east-west? No;
Does the mitigation plan guarantee provision of any of the things it requests? No.
HS2 is going to hit the borough of Erewash like a sledgehammer. These ‘hard-hitting’ mitigation measures, which are allegedly the best the council can do for its residents are little more than a damp sponge preventing the blow of the sledgehammer.
In your heart of hearts, I believe every councillor knows this full well. By suggesting these mitigation measures, you are by default accepting every other detrimental impact that HS2 will impose upon the area that the mitigation plan does not cover. As the simple list above demonstrates, there are many serious impacts that are simply not going to be averted by the mitigation plan.
I am afraid that in my opinion, every councillor that voted for the amendment to propose the mitigation plan has let down the residents to whom they are allegedly representing. I applaud the two Conservative councillors that ‘broke rank’ and voted with their head and heart.
Nevertheless, all is not lost. Two things will carry us through. Firstly we have requested an iconic viaduct, designed by international competition, and one that will reflect the heritage of Long Eaton be ‘graceful’ in the Erewash Valley! Secondly, I am sure Maggie Throup will be delighted to receive the backing of the council. I despair.
I am bitterly disappointed in the outcome of the meeting and feel let down by every councillor who voted in favour of accepting this weak and toothless mitigation plan.