Staffordshire - Campaign to Protect Rural England

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HS2 CPRE Staffordshire's position

September 2013

There are a number of really big issues currently concerning CPRE, not the least of which is the Coalition’s plan to develop a High Speed rail link through the heart of England. Whilst many feel that in such a poor economic climate any money

spent has to be spent very wisely, perhaps favouring the upgrading of existing lines and links instead, the Government continues to champion the notion that we need to better link together the economic centres in the South of the Country with those in the Midlands, and the North. That a new, faster system would reduce journey times, provide extra capacity for a network that is already becoming stretched to the limit, rebalance our economy, and help maintain our competitiveness abroad.

Whilst CPRE National Office has come out broadly in support of the principle of HS2, Staffordshire Branch has been opposed to the plans from the very beginning. The economic case for HS2 is widely criticised at a time when the nation’s forecast economic situation is perilous in the extreme, and it would seem that in the case of Staffordshire virtually no financial or other benefits would accrue across the majority of the County. We question savings on door to door travel times, and feel we will derive no benefits from accessibility to HS2. And in addition to our view that HS2 breaches the first sustainability principle to reduce the need to travel, it is our view that given that Staffordshire is the county with the greatest range of geology, and therefore scenery, it is especially important that we protect it.

Staffordshire Branch has of course inspected the published HS2 route, and we hope the attached chart will help to demonstrate the degree to which our County landscape will be affected.

We checked out how much of the route through Staffordshire would be raised above existing levels (51%), and how much would be below (49%), and of course once you add the height of the catenary carrying power cables, you can see in particular the visual impact, expressed in metres above existing levels, that we can expect from the proposal. Additionally, only 36% of the route will be within 5m of existing levels. This translates into a huge requirement for landscape alteration across the County, made worse of course by any mitigation efforts introduced either side of the route.

Much water to flow under the bridge then, and there have been growing signs of cold feet over the summer months as doubts about the likely costs and benefits increase.

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