Victory: HS2 eastern leg through Woodlesford, Oulton and Swillington cancelled!

Todays announcement, in the form of the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), finally recognises what we’ve been saying for years – HS2 doesn’t make sense!  We hope the IRP marks the start of the end of HS2 through our area. Thanks to everyone that fought against HS2, this is a great day for our communities. While it is now much less likely that any high speed lines will be constructed on the proposed HS2 route through LS26 and LS25, the safeguarding remains (for the time being, along with compensation schemes) and therefore so does the blight on properties.

The IRP maintains a promise of high speed connectivity for Leeds through upgrades to ECML and east/west routes. It also challenges the controversial terminus station in Leeds, much to LCC’s dismay – thank goodness common sense eventually prevails! Ironically, had some of the resurrected electrification plans not been shelved in preference to HS2, they would have been completed by now. IRP will though, according to Government, be delivered in a shorter time frame and at less cost than HS2.

With regard to safeguarding, HS2 Ltd have been very clear today that safeguarding of the entire HS2 route remains in force, as do their property (compensation) schemes. It is important that we continue to campaign for our areas to be removed from safeguarding ASAP to remove the blight that will otherwise persist. Politically this is likely to be sensitive, until such time as the confirmed IRP high speed access for Leeds is confirmed, and so safeguarding in our area could easily persist for a year or two without intervention.

We should keep in mind the way LCC have treated our communities and ensure we challenge their future plans to ensure they are just and fair. LCC should also be reminded that they declared a climate emergency for the city (at the exact same time as voting for environmentally unsound HS2) and as such they should not be encouraging long distance commuting. LCC, the Combined Authority, Northern Powerhouse and our Mayor of West Yorkshire need to listen to and respect the people they serve and represent.

We should also recognise the cost so far, and ongoing until safeguarding is removed. Many communities have been ripped apart, with residents unwilling or unable to live with the threat of HS2. Residents in the worst impacted areas around Bernard Street, Sydney Street, Swillington Lane, the Locks and Maltings etc have seen their communities disrupted as friends moved away, suffered poor health through stress, lives put on hold and financial hardship through badly affected house prices and inadequate HS2 compensation payments. These are impacts that can’t be undone. We should remember all those who have suffered and continue to suffer.

News expected this week

After months of silence, speculation and the much delayed Integrated Rail Plan (still not published) the last few weeks have seen several articles in the newspapers based on rumour or so called leaks, not facts. There was more speculation on local TV yesterday and national TV today based on claims by an undisclosed “source”. While there are likely to be some elements of truth to the various rumours, until there is an official announcement from Government, and then subsequently from the relevant parties in Yorkshire, the future of our area remains at risk.

It is likely that Government will award a considerable sum of money to improve transport within the northern region. This does not equate to HS2 being scrapped and Leeds getting trams instead. It is likely the the IRP will publish very soon, and this may well “justify” the cancellation of the HS2 eastern leg, as currently proposed. It is widely anticipated that there will be an announcement regarding the cancellation on Thursday (18/11/21).

It is also highly likely that part of the funds awarded to improve transport links in the north will result in an upgrade between Leeds and Sheffield. This is rumoured to adopt the HS2 route from Leeds to Clayton (near Doncaster). SOWHAT will oppose any such plan as the cost / benefit and blight arguments are even weaker for a regional project.

A terminus station in Leeds does not make sense, nor does the route south; no trains north of Leeds (without linking to existing station) and no direct links to Bradford or Wakefield, or other key towns and cities. LCC should reconsider the impact on Woodlesford, Oulton and Swillington, recognising that their aspirations for the Southbank can be realised without sacrificing our villages and countryside.

It is also vital that any cancellation of HS2 is full and final, removing any safeguarding. Without this any blight will continue indefinitely.

Green light from Boris?

On 11 February Boris PM announced that the cabinet had given the green light to HS2 and that it would be built. Read / watch the full statement and that of Alec MP in response.

No details from the official report given to justify the decision, no indication that the project needs to meet the criteria for public spending or the Notice to Proceed. There was an indication that Phase 2B would be subject to some review, primarily to reduce costs.

Since there have been indications that the number of trains and speed of trains north of Birmingham will be reduced. That the route may be revised in places, and that more consideration should be given to the impact on communities. No indication that compensation will change in any way.

We are pushing for a full review of the station location in Leeds and the associated route through our area. A parkway station would be more accessible. Through trains would be more beneficial. Using existing / disused transport corridors would reduce blight and cost. The mainline Leeds “bypass” could be eliminated entirely. We need to ensure the SoS for Transport, DfT and HS2 Minister understand the issues here and work with our MP to ensure changes are made now while the opportunity and appetite for change exists.

LCC must not be allowed to continue to dictate to HS2. LCC needs to be accountable to South Leeds. LCC, you have an equal duty of care to South Leeds residents – start behaving responsibly.

Election Special

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Deputation to full council

Today, 13 November 2019, members of SOWHAT attended the full meeting of Leeds City Council to renew and make new demands with respect to their lack of regard for the residents of Oulton, Woodlesford and Swillington in their obsession with HS2 and the development of the South Bank area in the city. What did we ask for?

  1. That the Council stops pretending that responding to consultations is enough.
  2. It should actively look at changing the approach of HS2 into Leeds so that it is aligned with future NPR/HS3 rail.
  3. To tell us what it believes “mitigation” means in relation to a 30m high 2.2 km long viaduct and 10 years of heavy construction and disruption. We want to know exactly what will satisfy the Council.
  4. If it is established that what HS2 Ltd are proposing does not meet the Council’s threshold of mitigation, we want to know what commitment the Council will make financially or materially to deal with the shortfall.
  5. We demand that details of Stourton and Garforth touchpoints are released to the public.
  6. The Council must provide a clear definition of how it will provide full transparency and represent and protect the interests of our residents, to whom it is accountable.

Read the full speech here: DEPUTATION TO COUNCIL 2019

 

HS2 announce more bad news for Woodlesford

Today the Government has announced the launch of a consultation on 11 proposed changes to the design of Phase 2b, the section of the HS2 route from Crewe to Manchester and West Midlands to Leeds.

These changes are being proposed following design development, environmental assessment, feedback to consultations and ongoing engagement and are a mixture of relocations and realignments, new infrastructure and the introduction of new scope to the HS2 design.

The changes only affect sections of the Phase 2b route, however everyone is welcome to respond to the consultation.

Design refinement number six is of specific interest (Leeds Corridor, Woodlesford to Leeds Station). The Secretary of State is minded to change the height of the route for 8km on the approach into Leeds Station so the line runs predominantly on a viaduct, rather than a combination of at ground level cutting and embankment.

The Secretary of State will decide whether to include the proposed changes in the Phase 2b design following consideration of the feedback to this consultation.

This consultation will close at 23:45 on 6 September 2019. We invite you to take part.

To access the consultation documents and for details on how to respond, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/hs2-phase-2b-design-refinement-consultation

We are holding a series of public information events near each of the proposed changes, where members of the project team will be available to help answer questions. For details of the events, please visit www.hs2.org.uk/phase2b.

Copies of the consultation documents are also being made available at a number of public venues in the vicinity of each proposed change. Details of these venues can also be found at www.hs2.org.uk/phase2b.

The website also includes a navigator tool to help identify the location of each of the proposed changes and provide access to detailed plans and visual representations.
If you have any questions related to this consultation, please contact the our Helpdesk on 08081 434 434 or email HS2enquiries@hs2.org.uk at any time.

Publication of consultation summary reports

At the same time as launching the design refinement consultation we have published two reports summarising the feedback received to the working draft Environmental Statement and working draft Equality Impact Assessment Report consultations that we carried out at the end of 2018.

We received almost 40,000 responses to these consultations and we are continuing to take the feedback received into consideration as we further develop the design for Phase 2b.
The two reports summarise the main themes contained in the feedback received and are available via www.hs2.org.uk/phase2b.

Safeguarding update

The Secretary of State is also updating Safeguarding Directions for the Phase 2b route to broadly reflect the land that was included within the working draft Environmental Statement now that we know what land we will likely need to acquire. Changes that we are consulting on that may affect what land is ultimately needed are not included in that update. However, Safeguarding is reviewed throughout the project and is updated when necessary to reflect new land requirements. More information on safeguarding and HS2 property schemes is available at: www.gov.uk/government/collections/safeguarding-information-and-maps-for-hs2

HS2 Ltd Drop-in | 26 June 2019

HS2 Ltd will be holding a drop-in session at the Oulton Institute on Wednesday 26 June 2019 from 2pm to 8pm. Anyone from Rothwell, Oulton and Woodlesford with questions about the latest HS2 proposals and the impact on their home or business should take the opportunity to call in.

There will be representation from their engineering and environment teams. If you haven’t yet seen the latest proposal, the tunnel portal is now closer to Northwood Falls and The Locks, and the train lines into Leeds are on a 20+m high viaduct which runs along the side of Rothwell Country Park and through Hunslet.