Michael Fabricant lodged a formal complaint with Alison Munro, Chief Executive of HS2 Limited, following misleading remarks made by HS2 officials at the Armitage Community Forum on Thursday 28th July. And in a separate development, Michael has made it clear in discussions with Cabinet colleagues that he believes the whole route from London to Birmingham needs a total rethink.
“I am told by other MPs that the experience at Armitage is not unique” says Michael Fabricant. “This has happened elsewhere too.
“In this instance, a large number of people at the Forum were given the impression that the Y-junction, which is where the HS2 line from the south separates to travel north-west to Manchester and north-east to Leeds, would be in Fradley in my constituency with two lines – not just the one we already know about – cutting swathes through Staffordshire countryside. All through last weekend I was fielding calls from worried councillors and locals in the area.
“But this is not the case. I can reveal that the Y will be sited just north of Coleshill and the route to Leeds will closely follow the line of the M42 motorway”. (The attached jpeg map shows the box where the Y-junction will be (source HS2), and the red line shows the likely route of the line to Leeds (not HS2 sourced)).
“I have said to Ms Munro that while the Community Forums are a good way to keep locals informed, the whole process is flawed if announcements made are not absolutely clear and cause unnecessary alarm. They will not have set out to mislead, but succeeded in doing so. I have suggested HS2 employ better communicators.
“I have also encouraged her and the Forums to engage in a two-way process with Stop HS2 groups to discuss mitigation – reducing noise, vibration and visual impact of the line – and compensation matters. Over the last few months, they have been reticent to do so.”
In a separate development, Michael has discussed Phase 1 with Ministers.
“With Phase 2 of the route – north of Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds – being sensitively designed by Justine Greening’s team to harmonise more with the environment by using existing transport corridors, such as the line of the HS2 route to Leeds running alongside the M42, I have asked Justine Greening why we are sticking to the Phase 1 route authorised by the previous Labour Transport Secretary, Andrew Adonis.
“In particular, with the Government re-addressing the question of a third-runway at Heathrow, it would make particular sense for the current Phase 1 plan to be knifed and an alternative route using the M40 and M6 transport corridors linking with Heathrow be designed instead. Considerable work on this was conducted by HS2’s engineers, ARUP, in the early days and was the Conservative Party’s preferred route before the General Election as it has less environmental impact on the countryside.”