Prior to the Meeting in Lichfield at Boley Park Community Centre at 8pm on Friday 1st October, Michael Fabricant is urging local action groups and campaigners to agree to find an alternative route for the proposed High Speed 2 railway line that will mitigate the environmental impact on local residents. He says that locals should not simply rely on the whole project being abandoned.
Michael says "I know that many individuals and organisations would like to see the Government drop the whole HS2 scheme. I can well understand that point of view. If constituents write to me expressing this view I will, of course, pass on all these representations to the very heart of Government. I have already questioned the viability of HS2 with both the Treasury and the Department of Transport and they know my personal concern.
"But we also have to be practical. It is absolutely vital that local individuals and organisations don’t bury their heads in the sand simply relying on the Government dropping the whole scheme. This might not happen. In that event, it is important that in parallel to the campaign to abandon the HS2 project, local campaigners should agree an alternative route that will reduce the environmental impact on local towns, villages, and countryside. I hope that the L.A.G. and other campaigners can work closely with the local Council who in turn are liaising with the Leader of Warwickshire County Council who has formed an Action Group to agree an alternative route.
"One voice with one alternative route will have far more impact with Government and the Inspectors than many disparate voices each arguing for alternative and conflicting routes. It would be a such a wasted opportunity if that were to happen. I hope we don’t blow it.
"The official consultation for the route will commence early in 2011. We still have 4-5 months to agree an alternative route to present eventually to the Inspectors, so it’s still early days. John Castle, the HS2 Route Engineer, made it very clear to me in a Conference I had last week with them that HS2 are open to suggestions and no rail route has been fixed.
"But I can only be a facilitator in all this. I am not a track engineer! And while I have expressed my personal view that the viaduct over the south-east of Lichfield is unacceptable, it will be up to the community as a whole to propose an alternative route working with qualified engineers. Meanwhile, I have persuaded Philip Hammond, the Transport Secretary, to come to Lichfield next week to see for himself what disruption the HS2 will cause."