Following his meetings with Whittington and Fisherwick Parish Councillors and local residents, Michael Fabricant raised a formal objection to the plan by Railtrack to widen the West Coast Main Line in the Whittington area. This will involve the destruction of homes and considerable disruption in the Whittington-Fisherwick area. Keith Hill (Minister at the Department of the Environment, Transport, and the Regions) has just now written to Michael Fabricant to inform him that a Public Inquiry will now be held into these proposals.
In his letter to Michael, the Minister says the Inquiry "will most probably start after the close of the inquiry into Railtrack’s first Order application, in the early part of 2002". The first Order refers to the track widening scheme planned through the middle of Armitage and Handsacre: Michael has proposed a northern route which is technically possible (though more expensive) bypassing Armitage and Handsacre altogether.
"This is good news for the people living in and around Whittington, Fisherwick, and the Hademore level crossing" says Michael Fabricant. "While the Parish Council and I are not proposing major changes to the route of the line as we feel that this would not be regarded as being practical by the commissioners who judge the Inquiry, we are objecting to plans that would destroy local amenities during the construction period. We will also be offering alternative proposals which will minimise disruption through noise and vibration once the upgraded lines are opened. These two consecutive Public Inquires will now force Railtrack into rethinking their plans in our part of Staffordshire so that they do ride rough shod over residents in Armitage and in Whittington."