From the archives: Report from the Beacons

This was originally published on March 1st 2011.  Local action groups had organised a series of beacons to mark the start of the 2011 consultation.  It was a great example of the way different people involved in campaigning against HS2 worked together and held a national event. 

Hundreds, possibly thousands, of people turned out on a damp Monday evening to support their local action groups in their protest against the proposed HS2.

Here’s a report from one Quainton resident about their local event

As 6pm approached a steady stream of people walked from the Green in Quainton towards a field at the edge of the village, the already-lit beacon lighting the way.

The beacon was positioned on what will one day be – if the Government gets it’s way – the actual railway.

There were hundreds of local people present at the site – school children from the village primary school, teenagers who go to Waddesdon secondary school, the old and the young, gathered together to show that they were all opposed to the rail link.

In the crowd were local councillors.  Libdem and Conservative District Councillors had come, as representatives of local people.  The councillor for Fairford Leys, a newish housing estate on the outskirts of Aylesbury, told me that the much vaunted move of the proposed line away from Hartwell House had brought it 80m closer to the families who live in Fairford Leys.

The chair of Quainton Parish Council mentioned the new affordable housing built a few hundred yards from the proposed railway: “they had to include office space” he said “for people working from home”.

Someone handed round plans, the latest revision for the local area.  The previous plan from September had changed a local crossroads into what would have been a dangerous junction with extremely poor visibilty.  The new revision had managed to get rid of this dangerous junction – by removing the turning to Waddesdon completely.  Whoever made this change had completely ignored the local buses that take residents from Quainton to Aylesbury, and the train station to London, as there is no way they could use their current route with this road layout.  Instead they would have to take a route several miles longer and miss out a number of existing bus stops.

Meanwhile, television crews and press photographers mingled with the crowd.  One news reporter referred to  “hundreds of people”.

On stage, the noise of the existing freight train that uses the local track was played. This train – which runs perhaps once a day – was much much quieter then the noise of a TGV that was then played.  A HS2 train will pass the village every two minutes: much more intrusive then a daily freight train.

A band played for a while, then a poem was read out.  The event wound down, as the fire died and the evening got colder.  The last baked potato was served, the last cup of tea, and the field returned once more to stillness.

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