Michael Fabricant met with the Chief Executive of Lichfield District Council Nina Dawes today (Friday 2nd March), her officials, Cllr Alan White, and Robert McDonald of the Stop HS2 Group in Whittington to brief them on his meetings with HS2, and the Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening.
He told the meeting: "I am keen that we all sing from the same hymn sheet for the benefit of Lichfield and the surrounding District so we can mitigate the effects of HS2 if construction goes ahead."
"I explained to the meeting that I had met with Dr Andrew McNaughton, Chief Engineer of HS2, and had explained to him and Justine Greening that I oppose the present route and believe that it should use existing transport corridors such as the M40."
The route might be changed by the special Parliamentary Hybrid Committee which will consider the high speed line later next year.
"But given the published route which takes it near Lichfield, I raised a number of issues with the Chief Engineer that have been highlighted to me my members of the Stop HS2 Action Group.
"In particular, the height of the bridge over Cappers Lane makes it far too visible. It had to be raised because of the clearance necessary for boats travelling along the canal. He said there may be a solution to this which will keep the integrity of the canal. I also expressed concern about Phase 2: namely, where the ‘Y’ junction will be which separates the line from the Manchester and Leeds destinations and the route it will take.
"He gave me some reassurance regarding the north-east route to Leeds and I am hoping that this will not affect our part of Staffordshire at all.
"As far as Phase 2 up to Manchester is concerned, he implied that the route is likely to be published in the spring, but said it will not directly affect towns like Armitage with Handsacre or Kings Bromley which I know will be of considerable relief to residents. I reminded him – he used to be Chief Engineer on the West Coast Main Line – that the 4-tracking of the line was a nightmare to residents of Armitage and they should not be subjected to such disruption again.
"Stop HS2 representatives had also expressed concern over the possible siting of any temporary construction depot. Dr McNaughton said that some sort of temporary depot will be necessary, but its exact position will be negotiable.
"Finally, HS2 are setting up Community Forums and I was given assurance that a representative of our local Stop HS2 group would be invited to serve on it.
"In a few weeks time I will be meeting with the Prime Minister and will re-emphasise to him the importance of a generous compensation scheme for those affected by HS2 and the need not to skimp on landscaping and other methods to minimise the visual and acoustic effect of the line".