Category Archives: Uncategorized

Under Not Over (UNO) – Call for tunnels not viaducts

Demand that HS2 be completely tunnelled through our area to protect our green setting and avoid all the problems associated with a decade of construction. The mainline viaduct will destroy the Aire Valley – Oulton and Woodlesford will never be the same again.

Sign our petition and ask you family and friends to do the same, wherever they live.

You can read more about the issues in our latest HS2 Tunnel Campaign flyer


Depot Consultation and Demand for Tunnels

The consultation on the depot closes on Thursday evening. Act now to raise your objections to HS2. It is important that as many people as possible submit a response. We need everyone to object to the current proposed route and viadcuts through our area to demand that both the mainline and branch line are tunnelled completely to mitigation the blight on our villages. Demand it go UNDER NOT OVER!

Consultation Information and how to respond by 11.45pm Thursday 12th October

Documents can be found here:

Responses can be completed online:


Responses can be emailed to:

Be sure to include your full name and address if sending by email.


HS2 Phase 2b: Eastern leg rolling stock depot – GOV.UK

Seeks views on the proposed relocation of a rolling stock depot from New Crofton to a site in the Aire Valley adjacent to the M1.

Consultation Questions…

There is one main question asked:

  1. Do you support the proposal to locate the Eastern Leg RSD on a site east of Leeds in the Aire Valley adjacent to the M1? Please indicate whether or not you support the proposal, together with your reasons?


Whilst this question is specific to the Rolling Stock Depot (RSD), it is also important to feedback our views on moving the tunnel entrance away from the village, to before the M62, and replacing the viaduct by COMPLETELY tunnelling both the mainline and branchline. As a community if HS2 has to go ahead, it needs to go under and not over.

This objection can be added as additional comments to the online response, or in the email sent as part of the consultation.


Consultation Answer template / suggested points to include

Below are suggestions on what to include, but please feel free (and we encourage all) to put your own stamp on any response. Please share with friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues to ensure as many people respond as possible. Please write in your own words.

It is important that everyone responds, there CAN be multiple response per household, one for each person.

  1. Do you support the proposal to locate the Eastern Leg RSD on a site east of Leeds in the Aire Valley adjacent to the M1? Please indicate whether or not you support the proposal, together with your reasons?

I object to the newly proposed site for the Eastern leg RSD for a number of reasons that should have already been considered by HS2. My concerns are as follows:

  • I have huge concerns over the level of disruption caused during construction of the depot. The postcode of LS26, and surrounding areas is already going to face unprecedented blight with the construction of the main and spur lines going through Woodlesford, and up through Swillington, and Garforth. The new addition of the rolling stock depot will increase this even further. The transport infrastructure for the area is already not suitable for all the construction traffic that would be needed just to build the lines that have been proposed. Adding this depot to the area just compounds this huge issue further.
  • I understand part of the reason this was moved from near Crofton on the original plan was due to the level of blight it was going to cause to that area due to it being surrounded on 3 sides by the new lines and then the RSD. This is now the case for Woodlesford / Swillington, as we have the mainline, spurline, and RSD to the north. Why if this is unacceptable for one area, is it acceptable for ours?
  • I assume traffic in and out of the new depot will be 24/7/365? Impact on nearby villages needs to be mitigated and routes prescribed for motorway is closed.
  • Consideration is required for the compound effect on roads due to the depot and the proposed park and ride at Stourton, this needs to be fully assessed and mitigated.
  • If this does go ahead it needs to be ensured all access is via junction 45 on the M1
  • I would like confirmation on any additional impact on the Woodlesford train line closure during construction. At present no closure timeline has been given for during construction of the main HS2 line, I assume this will increase closure time?
  • What will be the number of train movements per day, and what times of the day will they happen?
  • Will the RSD be limited only to trains coming from Leeds and returning to Leeds (ie no reversing stuff to get on/off mainline – so need depots elsewhere, or cycle in during normal operational journey)
  • There will need to be additional access improvements (extra lane) at junction 45 of M1, as the current park and ride peak hours causes queues back onto M1north
  • Are there any specifics on noise and light pollution that can be given based on how HS2 know these type of depots operate?

Additional comments to add to your response on Under Not Over!

  • Other areas of the route have significantly more tunnelling being completed, and proposed. In order to limit blight on LS26 and the surrounding areas I would like to see the proposals updated to have both the main line, and branch line (that comes across the M62, past Clumpcliffe, towards Woodlesford, and then spurs off up to Swillington and beyond, with the main line going under Woodlesford) to be entirely tunnelled through our area. There should be no gigantic viaducts cutting towards, past, and alongside all the residential areas as has been proposed already.
  • Why does Manchester get 14km of tunnel and LS26 only get 1km? We demand the entire route (both branch and mainline) be tunnelled through this area
  • The additional blight on top generated from the new RSD on top of the huge scale of blight the area already has proposed, should have this additional tunnelling to at least provide some compensation.

HS2 Public Information Events

HS2 Public Information event at Oulton Institute
12 noon to 5pm Saturday 15 September 2017

This is your chance to drop in and examine their latest plans for our area and the proposed depot near Arla.

Make the most of this opportunity to express your views on their plans!

Demand more and longer tunnels, instead of the huge viaducts, to remove the blight to our valley. If they tunnel both the Leeds branch line and main line from the M62 it would avoid all the destruction and protect our green setting.

SOWHAT will also be available at the Institute (in the Committee room, first left inside the front door) all afternoon and have arranged for the following representatives to be present:

Karen Bruce (Labour Cllr) 12-2pm
Kieth Wakefield (LCC) 12-1pm
Andrew Hall (LCC) 12-2pm (Head of Transportation)
Dylan Brown (Green Party) From 12 noon

Oulton & Woodlesford Neighbourhood Forum will also be in attendance.

Have your say before it’s too late!

Update for those that missed the above event:

The current HS2 proposed route will destroy our area. Don’t let this happen. There are better alternatives. HS2 must tunnel the entire section through LS26 on both the branch and main lines. Go have your say. Find out about the consultations and send them your written objections.

Tuesday 19 September, 2pm to 8pm
Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa, 1150 Century Way, Leeds, LS15 8ZB

Wednesday 20 September, 2pm to 8pm
Thwaite Mills Watermill, Thwaite Lane, Leeds, LS10 1RP

Depot nr Skelton Grange / Arla / M1

HS2 recently announced plans for a maintenance depot opposite Arla and next to the M1.

This will clearly need connectivity to the HS2 tracks and is likely to cause further disruption to local rail services while these connections are made and realignment takes place. There are currently no estimates as to the severity or period of disruption anticipated.

The depot will be operational 24 hours a day.

A consultation on the proposed depot is currently open and runs until 12 October 2017 – raise your objections and concerns now!

HS2 Update 17 July 2017 – Route and Compensation

Today saw a flood of documents released from HS2.

Our initial comments and links to their files can be found on our facebook discussion:

In short (so far):

  • The route hasn’t changed through our area, the tunnels and viaducts are as bad as ever
  • HS2 have proposed a depot next to the M1 opposite Arla (Skelton Grange / Stourton) instead of Crofton
  • SOWHAT achieved a small victory with improved compensation arrangements at tunnel mouths

SOWHAT and Woodlesford residents clearly made a significant impact, this is reflected in the HS2 consultation reports, but HS2 don’t justify their position and haven’t reduced the devastation they will cause to our area. Indeed, the disruption to existing rail services is likely to be worse during the construction period with the addition of the depot.

Chris Grayling (Secretary of State for Transport) failed to deliver the promised update to the House of Commons today and instead HS2 released many documents which don’t appear to offer much by way of justification for decisions taken. Grayling has been heavily criticised and the Speaker has promised to summon him to appear tomorrow to answer “extensive questions”.


Election candidates on HS2

SOWHAT asked the five Parliamentary candidates to complete a survey to inform the community of their position on HS2. Three written and one video response have been received.

You can view the individual responses here:

The video response is here:

Keep in mind that the viaduct is 28-36m high, 2200m long, and construction in our area is likely to take 7 or more years. You can read more details about the impact of HS2 here: HS2-Impact-Brief-v2.4.pdf


Also from the Constituency Election Hustings last Saturday run by Rothwell Catholic Church, we have the following report:

Conservative: Alec asserted his support for the project and the benefits he thought it would bring to Leeds. If it doesn’t come here, he says, then all the business will go to Manchester. KPMG have told him they will move there. He does not support the proposed route and stated that the reroute via tunnel is down to his campaigning.

Labour: David said he wants to see the Church Fenton spur abandonned, and that he wants HS2 to open an office in Leeds.

Liberal: Stewart wants a fairer deal for local people, the impact being too heavy, but talked about HS2 in principle as be progress.

Yorkshire: Matthew stated he was against HS2 and would prefer money to be invested in an East / West line across the Pennines.

Green: Dylan spoke eloquently against the HS2 project and said that they are working on a local transport plan that would reopen track closed under Beeching. He has had a long career working in the rail industry.

Woodlesford Illustration

Click on the images to enlarge. Although it’s not strictly to scale the illustration above gives a good idea of the impact on Woodlesford. The tunnel mouth cutting is around 140m wide (because there are in fact TWO tunnels, one for each track), and the track depth below ground level is about 15m. The viaduct height can be seen on the profile below which is to scale. The red house is just over 7m high, the size of a typical UK house. The viaduct is four times that height at Swillington Organic Farm!

Click these links for more images and videos

April Pre Election Update

Since the announcement of HS2 our area has been blighted, with many house prices tumbling and the property market slowing dramatically leaving many unable to move or sell. Furthermore, the exceptional hardship scheme and the compensation scheme proposed for those affected by the route are woefully inadequate and haven’t eased the situation at all. If and when HS2 is operational it is possible train movements will be 24×7, will include overnight maintenance work and may also include freight services in the future.

Since David Higgins took charge of HS2 Ltd and through the efforts or our MP and SOWHAT, we’ve seen a commitment to re-evaluate the station location and route into Leeds. We believe a more direct tunnelled route, or a route largely following the existing transport corridors would be cost neutral in comparison to the complex viaduct construction originally proposed. Sir David Higgins also favours an integrated station in Leeds.

Representations to Leeds City Council resulted in 100% support of these ideas and for residents in our area, however we feel that subsequent commitment and efforts to petition HS2 Ltd have been lukewarm, with more attention being given by the Council to the development of the South Bank area of Leeds than to the plight of our area.

LCC could significantly influence plans for the station location which in turn would cause the route to be re-evaluated. SOWHAT met with Cllr Keith Wakefield (the leader of Leeds City Council) just before Christmas. He reiterated at that meeting that the Council are supportive of our cause and want to see HS2 brought into Leeds along a route which minimises impact on residents and which best integrates with existing rail services. We hope that the Council will lobby HS2 Ltd and Sir David Higgins hard to drive home this stance whilst the final route is being considered, though to date, we have seen little direct evidence that this is taking place.

The published route incorporates a 14m (46’) deep cutting through ancient woodland near the deer park at Clump Cliffe, and four tracks on viaducts across Methley Lane and Fleet Lane elevated to 24m (80’) before the lines split, with two continuing through Swillington Farm at over 26m and onward to Garforth, and the other two continuing at a height of 14m along the canal behind the Maltings, Pottery Lane and The Locks housing estate. The heights quoted are those of the track, remember there will be another 5-8m (up to 25’) above this for the viaduct, signalling and power gantries etc. In addition to the massive disruption during years of construction including road closures and the loss of local rail services, a permanent diversion of the canal and river are also possible as part of the proposals.

With the more recent proposals for ‘HS3’, to link Leeds and Manchester, and further interest expressed by HS2 Ltd to have one integrated station in Leeds, there is increased optimism that the route will be changed away from our area. A single integrated station for HS2, HS3 and existing local services is likely to require east/west orientation, with HS3 arriving from the west. The route for HS2 as currently proposed through our areas would not allow for such an alignment.

However, such optimism must be tempered by the current political situation, with a general election looming. There is great uncertainty as to what will happen following the election. With a change in government it is possible that plans for HS2 could change completely and any progress we have made could be halted or completely reversed. (On a more positive note, we could of course see the whole thing scrapped!) If there is a change of Government, it is also possible that David Higgins could be removed which would be a considerable blow as he is instrumental to the integrated station plans.

What is the current thinking of the main parties?

  • The current situation has developed under the coalition government and is likely to continue along a similar track under the Conservatives and/or Liberal Democrats. Both parties are openly supportive of the project. We could probably expect that the plans would continue as they are at the moment, but that David Higgins will continue with his work on looking to integrate the station in Leeds so a re-route would still be on the agenda.
  • The Labour Party is in favour of HS2 but has recently reiterated its intention to reduce the overall cost of the project. They haven’t made clear how these cost savings would/could be achieved. It concerns SOWHAT that an easy target for cost savings may be compensation for affected residents or the budget devoted to mitigating the massive impact of construction on local communities. Most of the comments relating to the budget for HS2 have come from Ed Balls in the Labour Party. As MP for Morley and Outwood, his constituency would be directly affected by HS2 if an alternative route into Leeds was chosen, which leads to SOWHAT wondering how impartial he would be when considering all the options. Mr Balls has also spoken about wanting to implement HS3 before HS2. Whilst we believe HS3 to be of more benefit than HS2 to the north of England, we certainly don’t want to see plans for HS2 simply put on the back burner, resulting in a further extension to the effects of blight and uncertainty in our areas. Labour could of course look to cut costs by announcing that Phase 2 should be scrapped with the line travelling from London to Birmingham only. They could also say they want to pursue only one part of Phase 2 meaning the line travels to either Manchester or Leeds but not both. This is all conjecture and we simply don’t know what they intend to do.
  • The Green Party is opposed to HS2 and want to see the project scrapped in favour of investment in existing and local rail infrastructure and public transport. They believe that long distance travel should be discouraged because it harms the environment and believe we should focus on technology as an alternative to long distance business travel in the future.
  • UKIP is also opposed to HS2 and believe it is a vanity project driven by the EU. They believe it has no business case, will saddle the country with debt and would be harmful to environment. They have said they favour investing in the existing railway infrastructure to meet any demand for increased capacity.

This is is a very simplistic analysis of the political situation in relation to HS2. We don’t believe it is SOWHAT’s job to influence the way people cast their votes. There are of course many other issues to consider at election time and we don’t want to start campaigning for a particular political party.

Last week a report by the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee said that there was no convincing case for spending £50bn on HS2. Lord Hollick the chairman of the Lords Committee said that “The Government have not carried out a proper assessment of whether alternative ways of increasing capacity are more cost effective than HS2” and that “In terms of rebalancing (the economy) London is likely to be the main beneficiary from HS2. Investment in improving rail links in the north of England might deliver much greater economic benefit at a fraction of the cost”.

This report was the latest in a whole series of damning conclusions about HS2 from within Westminster itself. It was significant however because the Lords had taken evidence from The Department for Transport, HS2 Ltd, STOPHS2 and the HS2 Action Alliance. The report they published was an almost perfect vindication of the perspective of the HS2 protest movement. The Lords agreed (after careful analysis of both perspectives and the evidence presented) that the arguments against HS2 are much more plausible that the (largely invented) reasons for its construction. They openly disputed the governments argument that there is a capacity crisis on long distance rail services and were critical of the government’s attempts to hide their own statistics on current passenger numbers on existing long distance services.

After reading the report and listening to news articles and interviews on the day of its release, we were expecting the government would feel compelled to counter the arguments from the Lords. Their response was simply to state that “the case for HS2 is crystal clear”. There was NO counter argument, NO evidence and NO reasoning. Just that simple statement. With such a staggering level of crassness in the face of overwhelming reasoned argument, is there any wonder that we have no idea what the future might hold for our community?