This was first published in July 2012: links to the leaflets have been updated.
A walking leaflet has been published by Brackley based Global Mapping and South Northamptonshire Council highlighting the consequences of building the proposed London to Birmingham high speed line, HS2.
South Northamptonshire has, surprisingly to many, some of the most beautiful countryside in England and a series of walks were published last year to make the most of it. The region is bordered by the M40 and M1 but in between are very few major roads resulting in a tranquil area of unique biodiversity and where the only sound is birdsong.
Unfortunately the threat of HS2 looms, which despite the fragile business case, seems to still be favoured by Government. Should HS2 proceed then the tranquillity of South Northamptonshire, its ancient woodlands and historic sites will be lost forever.
Alan Smith, Global Mapping’s Managing Director takes up the story. “I was laying in the bath having just finished walking a new route from Culworth to Edgecote taking in the Civil War Battlefield and realised that HS2 was going to slice right through where we had just walked. I thought it would be useful for walkers to know where the line was going and also residents and visitors just how much of an impact HS2 was going to have.”
Fellow walker, Tim Pridmore, a warden for the Wildlife Trust, commented “This is so sad. On some walks we stop and you hear literally nothing. Trains every 4 minutes are going to ruin that! Some of the habitat is irreplaceable. Ancient Woodlands have been there for over 400 years, suggesting, as one government minister did, that they could just be moved is plain bonkers!”
The leaflet features 6 walks including one at Turweston where HS2 cuts the racecourse in half, a walk around the ancient woodland of Halse Copse and the battlefield at Edgecote. Other local wildlife sites include the railway cutting at Helmdon home to the scarce Small Blue Butterfly.
The leaflet can be downloaded from the South Northants Council website.
PS Tim Stansfeld, described South Northamptonshire like this (Tim is a town planner who walked the HS2 route last year to find out what people thought about HS2):
“As I stand at the top of the hill and look back to Edgcote and to Home Farm I realise that I’m actually quite angry, for the first time on the whole walk. Angry that this outstandingly beautiful, historic and peaceful landscape could be ruined for ever. At the same time I feel ashamed that it should be this bastion of privilege that has made me feel this way, rather than any impact on our more ordinary lives. That’s a middle class Englishman for you I suppose, I think to myself.