HS2 opened two public consultations in October as they published thousands of pages of complex, technical documents about their construction plans. You can order printed copies (free of charge), view them online or download them. There are also reference copies at Stanley, Rothwell and Garforth libraries.
A summary of that information, highlighting the negative impacts on our health, environment and local communities in the LS25 and LS26 areas can be found below. Yes, we’ve read them so you don’t have to!
It is important that you ACT NOW! You must SAY NO – it’s your last chance!
Voice your objections by submitting responses before the 21 December 2018 deadline.
You can respond by filling in paper copies of the HS2 Consultation Response Forms, or alternatively you can write a letter, email or fill in their online forms.
Numbers count, so everyone in your household should submit their own individual response (including children old enough to express an opinion). Tell your family and friends everywhere in the UK to do the same!
Paper forms are available at: Vintage In Oulton, Woodlesford Post Office, Howgate & Farrar, Beechwood Nisa, Swillington Organic Farm, rivers MEET, Jail Yd Diner and Wood Fire Dine. You can also order from HS2, contact SOWHAT, or pick one up at the Midland on Saturday morning.
Completed forms, and letters, can be posted free of charge or returned via Woodlesford Post Office no later than 19 December 2018. Please post in plenty of time and consider using signed for delivery.
The two consultations
There are two consultations, the printed paper forms are colour coded for easy identification.
The majority of our concerns will be raised through the Environmental Statement consultation (blue) – everyone should respond to this consultation.
For those with specific concerns related to age, disability, race, gender, etc a response should also be made to the Equality Impact consultation (orange).
Environmental Statement (Blue)
Equality Impact Assessment Report (Orange)
Use our information to understand what’s important for you and form your objections. You can add any thoughts and information you wish to your response. You are free to cut and paste this information into your response as you wish. You can also endorse the SOWHAT responses.
CONSULTATION RESPONSE GUIDANCE
HS2’s Documentation is a Smokescreen
HS2’s promises are not legally binding
Based on expert opinion, the documentation that HS2 has provided is not legally binding. This means that HS2 have wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayer money producing thousands of pages of non-legally binding content, which is merely a smokescreen to confuse and mislead the people they’re harming.
Assurances are worthless
HS2 policies are worded in such a way that they aren’t worth the paper they are written on. HS2 must provide guarantees, not smokescreens, to ensure effective control of construction activities and impacts.
HS2 operate in a contrived and disingenuous manner, deceiving the public
HS2 don’t listen, the information presented reflects a point in their design from 2017, it contains many errors and inaccuracies, the consultation period isn’t long enough to read all the information put forward, the consultation and information events aren’t publicised widely enough, many people impacted are still totally unaware; this entire consultation exercise merely ticks a box – they do what they want, and Government lets HS2 (and industry) get away with it.
The volume of information produced and the short consultation period do not allow a typical individual sufficient time to read and respond. Longer consultation periods are necessary to be fair to members of the public. Additionally, the timing of these consultations is very poor with news dominated by Brexit and people’s time consumed with festive activities and preparations. Original indications that the consultations would run into January, due to Christmas, were not honoured.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONSULTATION RESPONSE GUIDE
Damaging to Health
HS2 don’t know what’s in the land they plan to disturb
Old landfill and mining sites (like the old Armitage landfill) contain asbestos and heavy metals like lead, which we will breathe in once the soil is dug up.
Air pollution will be worse
Increased traffic and dust from construction and contaminated soil will affect the quality of our air and our health, but HS2 don’t plan to monitor the air in our towns and villages.
HS2 is not doing enough to protect people from noise and vibration
For the construction period, HS2 has set noise and vibration thresholds above which they may provide support, like noise insulation or even re-housing. However, the noise limits they propose are worse than the limits occupational law enforces, because HS2 only look at average noise and not the ‘peak noise’. In addition, HS2 have not given any indication of how long people will have to live with excessive noise before they provide insulation.
The thresholds proposed are barely suitable for adults, and can harm children’s hearing, health, and (in the case of vibration thresholds) harm unborn children. Construction will carry on at night, including digging of the tunnel under Woodlesford.
HS2 is making people ill and doing little to help
The anxiety and stress associated with HS2, property prices and sales are already making people ill, both physically and mentally. This will only get worse as construction gets underway with congestion and disturbance increasing, People’s lives and wellbeing are at great risk and HS2 is doing very little to prevent this.
HS2 has failed to minimise health risks
HS2 states that the locations of construction compounds and site haul routes have been selected to reduce exposure to construction impacts; however, many are unacceptably close to people’s homes and will significantly increase health risks. This includes the 24×7 tunnelling compound in the heart of Woodlesford.
- Sound insulation for homes is not an acceptable solution; everyone has a right to have their windows open, to have fresh air and the tranquillity currently enjoyed.
- HS2 must use low noise road surfaces to mitigate any adverse changes in road noise, particularly at over-bridge sites.
- Increased stress of commuters has not been assessed in relation to the longevity of the likely disruption.
- the effect of lighting on the construction compounds has been significantly downplayed with little or no mention of the associated impact on health and wellbeing of residents.
- HS2 are ignoring Northern Power House Rail, the additional trains and associated noise and health impacts have not been taken into account.
Losses to Homeowners
Homeowners aren’t fairly compensated for what they lose
HS2 make it very hard to prove that their plans (e.g. a tunnel under your house) are making it harder to sell and slashing the value of your home. You also have to prove that you must sell your house, but documenting this to HS2’s standards is very difficult. Eligibility criteria is also extreme, covering only things like bereavement and divorce, but, for example, ignoring the needs of growing families.
Homeowners won’t be fairly compensated in the short or long term either
Compensation for people up to 300 metres from the track or less is very low. There is no provision for those who may be blighted, visually or by noise, further away, leaving homeowners out of pocket when they try to sell. HS2 have made no provision to compensate those affected now or during the construction period.
Work could cause flooding and subsidence
Construction will change the water table and shift the land underneath us, so our homes could flood and sink. Home insurance premiums may rise, or worse become uninsurable.
Major Traffic Disruption
Traffic will be at a standstill for up to 6 years during construction
Main roads in and out of our towns and villages will be closed, including the M1, M621, M62 and Bullerthorpe Lane. Pontefrant Road (B6481) past Arla Dairy will be closed for 9 months. Construction traffic will make this even worse and combined with train station closures, we will be isolated and unable to get to work outside of our villages.
HS2 construction sites have hundreds of workers and will be open 8am to 6pm
This will make rush hour traffic even worse and increase traffic accidents, but HS2 say rush hours start at 8am and finish at 6pm, which we all know isn’t true. Contractors can work even longer and maintenance means the sites can run 7 days per week. Many sites will see activity from 7am to 7pm and some will operate 24 hours a day.
HS2 traffic monitoring performed doesn’t take winter traffic into consideration
HS2 has monitored traffic in our area for only a short period of time in the late summer / early autumn. This means that all of their predictions and estimates are flawed as they don’t take into account busier periods, such as when it’s cold, wet or the winter months which have far worse traffic volumes.
As a result, they don’t know and can’t tell how badly their road closures will affect us. Their predictions won’t be accurate, so their plans won’t be good enough to protect us from road chaos.
HS2 should reinstate the route through Pontefract Lane to Junction 45
There is only one road connecting Woodlesford and Swillington. HS2 should upgrade junctions to bring Pontefract Lane back into use before construction starts to allow an alternative route to Junction 45, Leeds and the Park & Ride facility.
Jobs and Businesses Impacted
HS2 do not plan to compensate businesses and landlords during construction
Local businesses will be adversely affected due to closures, diversions and congestion, and landlords will suffer (and some already are suffering) as area becomes undesirable. The impact on them has not been adequately assessed and there is no provision to ensure they can remain in business. HS2 have significantly downplayed the possible job losses and business closures.
HS2 will bring little new business and very few jobs to our area despite their claims otherwise
Jobs for local communities would be predominantly in lower skilled roles as contractors will bring in their own skilled and managerial staff from their existing workforce or recruit nationally, disadvantaging local skilled workers
Negative Environmental Impact
Green space will be torn apart during construction
More than two-thirds of Water Haigh Woodland Park will be used for construction. This takes away our green spaces for up to 10 years and they will take 30 years to return to their current state.
Wildlife reserves, legally protected species and ancient woodland will be permanently destroyed
There is a significant and unacceptable loss of ancient woodland, parks and green belt in our area. This will harm otters, birds (including owls and red kites), water voles and even rare amphibians and mosquitoes.
Wildlife habitats will be bisected
HS2 have given no thought to the movement of wildlife species across the proposed route in our area meaning habitat connectivity will be lost. Suggested general mitigation does not go far enough.
HS2 will cause irreparable damage to our landscape
HS2 acknowledge that there is a high magnitude of change in this area, with major adverse effects, both short and long term, with many permanent changes to the landscape being impossible to mitigate. These have however been consistently downplayed. At what point do HS2 consider something to be unacceptable? They simply state that so far as practicable it will “integrate with existing skyline features”, this isn’t possible with a 29m viaduct, unless it’s painted blue and decorated with clouds.
HS2 have failed to mitigate the impact on landscape
HS2 have provided inadequate information of what, when and where advance planting is to take place. Planting may not be mature enough to have any screening effect by the time HS2 comes into operation. Inadequate consideration has been given to the impact of new planting on existing views which may be lost, particularly where close to homes. There is no indication of who will own and maintain planted areas long term or what protection they will have against further development.
Loss of Local Connectivity
New Fleet Lane bridge will limit access
The excessive gradient of the overbridge proposed for Fleet Lane will prevent or severely limit access to all but motorised vehicle access. With a gradient of around 20% this is must steeper than the maximum of 1:12 stated in British Standards. In practice even this gradient is too steep for many people, particularly older people and wheelchair users with limited upper body strength. Gradient and length of slope must be considered together. Sustained gradients of more than 1:20 must be interrupted by level resting platforms at maximum intervals of 30m.
Eshald Lane closure will significantly impact communities
Connectivity between Fleet Lane and Eshald Lane is vital to the three communities immediately adjacent. This route is used to visit family and friends, and to access shops and recreation. It also provides occasional alternative access when Aberford road is obstructed, allowing local residents to go about their business with the minimum of inconvenience.
If closed, the increase in traffic on Lynwood Avenue would be unacceptable and the junction with Aberford Road inadequate. Residents of Fleet Lane, the marina and connected roads would have no alternative access should its junction with Aberford Road be obstructed, e.g. vehicle collision or fuel spillage at petrol station, and similarly emergency services would have no route in.
Failures and Incompetence
There are multiple failures, and clear incompetence, on the part of HS2:
- We are dismayed that a number of documents contain significant errors, inconsistencies factual inaccuracies, and misleading information; we are very concerned that this level of negligence is symptomatic of the lack of care shown by HS2 Ltd.
- Furthermore, many environmental studies have been rushed, cut short and do not cover a full year as necessary and required thereby invalidating design decisions.
- The documents mislead the decision maker and portray a false sense of assurance and confidence.
- Failure to define acceptability criteria and scoring metrics lead to arbitrary decisions without any accountability, the proposals for our area are not sound and should not be taken forward.
Build it once, Build it right
Government and HS2 should adopt a ‘build it once, build it right’ approach, creating a fully integrated station with through trains allowing the full benefits of HS2 to be realised, rather than crippling its potential with extra loops of track to take some trains into the main station
HS2 do not understand the geology of the area, significantly increasing risk
So far only desktop analysis has taken place. and there is huge potential for subsidence and negative effects of water pathways due to historic coal mining. Engineering complexities will increase costs and HS2 have insufficient data to establish that their proposal is financially viable.
- Government and HS2 must ensure that the design is not compromised by cost, avoiding the mistakes made when building ECML. Build it properly or not at all.
- Components generating noise (engines, pantographs, cables, wheels, track bed and rails, portals etc) must be chosen to minimise peak noise and noise at source, irrespective of cost, to ensure health impacts are minimal.
- The appearance of bridges and viaducts needs to respect the local setting, meaningless words such as sympathetic and “impressive” are not helpful. Repetitive and “bland and cheap” structures must be avoided.
HS2 Should Find an Alternative
HS2 does not need to take this route
Other options are much less damaging to people, the environment and would be cheaper.
HS2 should identify a better station location
Far more benefit could be derived by a better choice of station location for Leeds and the surrounding area.
EQUALITY IMPACT RESPONSE GUIDE
You can also read our equality guide to understand more about what HS2 should be considering in terms of affected groups and potential impacts. This may help you to form additional ideas your consultation response.
New bridge and road closure will disadvantage certain user groups
The construction of the overbridge on Fleet Lane and the loss of connectivity between Fleet Lane and Eshald Lane will discriminate against certain age and disability groups. The connectivity between areas is principally flat, and at worst has a very gentle gradient. The bridge is likely to introduce a gradient of around 20% which is too steep for most people, yet alone mobility scooter and wheelchair users, cyclists and various other users. This is particularly true for the young, old and disabled.
A gradient of 1:12 is the maximum given in the British Standards. In practice this gradient is too steep for many people, particularly older people and wheelchair users with limited upper body strength. Gradient and length of slope must be considered together. Sustained gradients of more than 1:20 must be interrupted by level resting platforms at maximum intervals of 30m.
HS2 acknowledge that certain groups of people will be disadvantaged as a result of the proposed route
HS2 require land on a temporary and permanent basis for construction and operation of the line. Our open green spaces will be lost, public rights of way closed, in some case diverted. Buildings used for sports/leisure, community and religious worship are listed to be demolished (particularly in Leeds centre).
In LS26 Water Haigh Woodland Park will be lost as a community facility. During the construction period various parts of it will be closed for up to 6 years to accommodate construction compounds and areas to stockpile excavated waste material.
This area currently sees large groups of walkers as the Trans-Pennine Trail and Leeds Country Way footpaths/bridleways pass through it. The loss of the green space due to the new line will be hugely detrimental to many people and will increase isolation.
In Leeds, the loss of community provision includes:
- Leeds Specialist Autism Service based at Junction 7 – due for demolition – significant impact on those that use the service, their families and carers
- Hunslet Parkside Amateur Rugby League Football Club – temporary loss of car park impacting on children with disabilities, children and young people – also lack of safe pedestrian access to alternative parking.
- Hunslet Community Sports pitches – 10% permanent loss of current outdoor space – club membership is 2,500+ young people aged 18mths – 25yrs use this facility.
- Mecca Bingo club on Balm Road – demolition – disproportionately effecting women and older women
- Demolition of Life Church UK – hub Hurley House – disproportionate effects on people of faith and young people.
- Permanent demolition displacement of occupiers of Gypsy & Traveller site – Kidarce Street.
HS2 admit that they currently do not know how the temporary and permanent loss of these areas of land will affect protected groups. This is because they have failed to make a proper assessment.
Their stock answer is to ‘seek further information through stakeholder engagement’. This is an inadequate response and gives no real assurance that further assessment will be done.
HS2 have failed to assess the impact of the local economy.
HS2 Ltd admit that jobs for local communities will be predominantly in lower skilled roles as contractors will bring in their own skilled and managerial staff from their existing workforce or recruit nationally – this disadvantages local skilled workers and severely limits the potential economic benefit.
HS2 have failed to make any provision for the impact on local businesses
HS2 suggest that after the railway is operational, small businesses can make a claim for loss of income that can be demonstrated through company accounts over the period of construction. This is unacceptable as many such small businesses will be unable to sustain these losses and will not survive long enough to make a claim. The loss of businesses within the local area will have a significant impact on the entire community both short and longer term.