The Member of Parliament for North Warwickshire & Bedworth Dan Byles, chaired the Coleshill, Water Orton and Gilson HS2 Community Forum meeting last Friday. At the meeting, after pressure from the MP for an early answer to the vexed question of where the High Speed Rail Y-Route will run, HS2 Ltd confirmed that the junction will be close to Water Orton and the spur will run alongside the M42 heading north east.
Dan Byles is a vocal critic of the new rail project, and is one of the few MPs who has chosen to chair all of the Community Forums in his constituency. He is an active campaigner who works closely with local anti-HS2 action groups and has spoken out against the project in Parliament.
The location where the planned the HS2 Y-Junction will split off from the main line and run north east towards the East Midlands has been the cause of much concern. Possible routes were believed to include the M42 corridor or the A38 corridor. Dan Byles has been pushing the Department for Transport for an early answer, as the potential implications for those living along the spur are significant. Now for the first time, HS2 Ltd have confirmed that the junction will be constructed close to the village of Water Orton and the M42 corridor is the planned route.
Speaking after the meeting at which this was revealed, Dan said:
“I have been pushing hard for an early answer to this question. The continued uncertainty has been causing real concern for people living along the potential Y-Route in Kingsbury, Polesworth, Newton Regis and Austrey. Now that it has been confirmed, I am deeply disappointed, although to be honest not surprised. I think most of us locally have believed that this was the most likely route.
“The HS2 engineers told me that the details of the Y-Route itself are still being finalised and will not be published for some months, and that the location of the junction was originally not going to be released until the same time. But apparently we made a strong case during the last Community Forum meeting for early sight of the junction location, and that is why they agreed to release this information early. I am grateful to them for that, although we are now in limbo for a bit until the detailed route is published.
“Last year I helped to set up an early Action Group for Kingsbury, Polesworth and the villages. I will now meet with the action group as soon as possible, and work with them closely to inform local people and to start work early on getting organised for the next round of consultations and discussions over the detail of the route and mitigation measures.
“Meanwhile, this campaign is a marathon, not a sprint. It will be years before a single foot of track is laid, and I will continue to campaign with fellow like-minded MPs of all parties against the entire project.”
In addition, Mick Stanley, Leader of the North Warwickshire Borough Council, Colin Hayfield, Leader of the Opposition and Chief Executive Jerry Hutchinson have written to Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport asking for clarification ask for clarity ‘in order to avoid blight across a wide area’.
The letter says “Currently around 20 km in length of HS2 will be in the Borough, including the Coleshill Delta Junction, with the lines going into and out of Birmingham. From the latest proposal, the Borough would now appear to have the first section of the Y route to Leeds, which we estimate would be an additional 10 to 15 kilometres locally. ”
The letter goes on to say: “This lack of clarity will have a devastating effect on the eastern and northern parts of the Borough, just at a time when the Core Strategy and potential development sites (which could lead to major investment in the region) are being brought forward. ”
The Minister is asked to clarify the preferred route to Leeds as soon as possible and in advance of the current timetable, which schedules the announcement for later in the year.