By Andrew Bodman.
The Ramblers have a map of all the footpaths crossed by HS2. These are classified into green (where a tunnel is planned), yellow (where HS2 uses a viaduct to cross the footpath) and red (where a path crosses the route of HS2 but the Ramblers are not aware of any action taken by HS2 Ltd). There are 132 footpaths in this red classification, 4 yellow and 31 green (total 167).
This map can be enlarged so that it lists all the footpaths affected.
It is possible that the Rambles’ total number may be understated as data from just three of the counties traversed provides the following picture on footpaths/bridleways:
(Data from respective county or district councils)
Warwickshire CC has also identified that 33 of the 39 footpath/bridleway crossings for HS2 in its county have not yet had a solution published by HS2 Ltd.
Looking at the Appraisal of Sustainability Main Report Volume 1, HS2 Ltd list only 27 footpaths potentially affected between London and Lichfield. It appears to have only looked at what it terms “strategic” footpaths, although this term is not defined. It goes on to say access would be maintained in most cases.
“8.12.8 The potential severance and/or diversion of strategic footpaths, bridleways, nature trails and cycle paths severed and/or requiring diversion was considered. There would be 27 footpaths (as identified from OS maps) potentially affected, along with six local cycle routes, seven national cycle routes, and one national trail. Although access would be maintained in most cases, it may be temporarily disrupted during construction”.
Later under the heading of “Incorporated mitigation” we find the following:
“All access routes across the proposed scheme would be maintained in the long term where feasible, including roads, footpaths, cycle routes, pedestrian walkways. Disturbance during the construction period would be reduced to a practicable minimum”.
What do we learn from this? HS2 Ltd is unaware of more than 100 footpaths affected and has presumably planned no mitigation for them. They may consider footpaths that are not “strategic” do not have to remain, even though a footpath marked on an OS map indicates a right of way. Of the limited number of footpaths HS2 Ltd has identified, they only intend to maintain their usage “where feasible”. What does where feasible mean? It also demonstrates again how unsatisfactory the Appraisal of Sustainability report was.
HS2 Ltd’s proposed footpath usage census exercise in the summer is a complete waste of money. To only maintain selected footpaths after HS2 is built ignores its obligations under existing rights of way.
Looking at the Appraisal of Sustainability Main Report Volume 2, in section 11a (printed page numbers 24 and 25) it divides the route into sections. For the section Middleton to West Coast Main Line (Lichfield), the following remarks are made:
“There are an additional three (3) crossings of OS footpaths; access would be expected to be maintained with the exception of one which runs along a narrow track”.
So HS2 Ltd has already decided that one particular footpath need not continue because it is on a narrow track. Again this company apparently ignores rights of way.
In conclusion, it appears to me that up to 80% of existing footpaths crossed by the proposed route of
HS2 may be severed, despite the rights of way that exist.