"While I welcome the principle of a High Speed Rail link between major conurbations including London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds, I am deeply concerned about the environmental impact it will have on Lichfield District and I oppose the currently proposed route.
"The first phase of the construction, which is not due to start until 2017 and will link London to Birmingham, will have a severe impact on east Lichfield and around Elmhurst near where the West Coast Main Line passes under the A515 Lichfield to Kings Bromley road.
"The second phase which is not yet scheduled, and which will take the line northwards, will cause major disruption yet again to residents of Armitage who have only just had to endure years of misery caused by the widening of the West Coast Main Line.
"And let us be clear: while the high speed rail link will be good for Britain as a whole and something we should all support in principle, the trains will not stop in Lichfield, but will whistle by at 250 miles per hour. Journey times to London via the existing Virgin Pendolino service will be considerably quicker than taking the train to Birmingham and changing onto a high speed train down to London especially as commuters would have to travel from Birmingham New Street station to a new station in Birmingham yet to be constructed.
"There will be a major planning inquiry and I hope that local residents will work with me to argue against the proposed route. Alternatives do need to be sought. The environmental impact on east Lichfield will be immense with a 2.5 mile long viaduct going over the Enterprise Industrial Park.
"I am concerned that noise caused by trains travelling at 250mph will have an adverse affect on residents living in Boley Park. And while I would be cautious in anticipating whether the viaduct will be visible from the historical central part of Lichfield, this is a factor of which we need to be aware.
"Even the Government accepts there will be an environmental impact on Lichfield. They say: ‘the section of line through the West Midlands would result in adverse impacts to the communities through which it passes, particularly due to operational noise, vibration and demolitions’.
"When the works continue northwards, Armitage will be affected badly once again. While this will not start until for some years, we should be aware of it now. The work to widen the West Coast Main Line caused huge disruption to residents of Armitage and blighted property prices. It tore the heart out of local communities which have only just begun to settle down. It is unreasonable and unfair to expect my constituents to have to go through all that misery for a second time especially as the works for the high speed link will be even more disruptive than that for the West Coast Main line work.
"I am urging the District and City Councils together with local residents to unite with me to find an alternative route to mitigate the detrimental effect on our community and which we can propose to the Planning Inquiry when it comes about."
There now follows an extract from the Department of Transport’s proposals as they affect Lichfield:-
East of Lichfield, the preferred scheme would be elevated on a viaduct to cross over the A38, the existing railways (including the West Coast Main Line) and the A5127.
The viaduct would also go over the Enterprise Industrial Park just to the south of the WCML. The preferred scheme would then run parallel to the WCML, connecting with it north of Lichfield. A grade separated junction would be required in the Elmhurst area to effect this connection.
Sustainability. This route would have few adverse effects on natural and cultural resources; the impacts would be principally associated with the historic and water environments. The route would comprise some 4km of viaduct along a route length of 7km, where areas have been identified as highest risk of flooding. As with many sections of route within the overall scheme, the section of line through the West Midlands would result in adverse impacts to the communities through which it passes, particularly due to operational noise, vibration and demolitions.
Overall, however, the approach is preferable to an approach to Birmingham along the more densely populated western or southern routes. Noise and vibration impacts can to some extent be mitigated and the required land take and demolitions would be reviewed and possibly reduced through subsequent design steps.