Update and Call to Action

Today we held a public information meeting at Oulton Institute to update everyone on HS2’s current proposals, provide feedback from our meeting with them last week, and to set out what everyone needs to do urgently to respond to the public consultations.

To secure the future of our villages we need our voice to be heard. Only by generating a significant volume of responses will HS2 be compelled to listen. This could well be our last opportunity to influence their plans.

Responses must be submitted before their 9 March 2017 deadline.  Read more…

We also encourage everyone to sign our petition and to write to our MP, Councillors and LCC.

You can view a copy of our HS2 Update (PDF) presentation. We also showed videos from our drone flying at the height of the train, and walked through our template response documents.

The HS2 route consultation was not designed for our area and their response form doesn’t make much sense for us. It is better to write a letter (or email), drawing on our templates where appropriate and adding your own content, and then address this to HS2 as part of their “Phase 2b Route Consultation“.

The property compensation consultation form and details may be used as supplied, although you are also entitled to supplement or submit your  response by letter or email if you wish. You can also submit your response online.

Click the graphic below for a copy of today’s presentation.

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

HS2 Phase 2b Property Consultation

Dates for your diary…
HS2 Phase 2b Property Consultation and the Phase 2b Route Refinement Consultation events:

Saturday 21 January Woodlesford
Blackburn Hall, Commercial Street, Rothwell, Leeds, LS26 0AW 10am – 5pm

Monday 23 January Garforth
Thorpe Park Hotel & Spa, Thorpe Suite 1150 Century Way, Leeds, LS15 8ZB 12pm – 8pm

Tuesday 24 January Hunslet
Royal Armouries Museum, Armouries Drive, Leeds, LS10 1LT 12pm – 8pm

Why is this not in the village again?  Ask HS2!

Note that HS2 are likely to have different information displays at the Garforth and Hunslet events, so you are best to attend on the 21st if you can, but if you can’t make that… the others are better than nothing.

Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hs2-phase-2b-property-consultation-and-the-phase-2b-route-refinement-consultation-events-january-february-2017

Revised route announced by HS2

News this morning of revisions to the route make better reading for The Locks and The Maltings, but still a very significant impact on Woodlesford and our surrounding greenbelt…

Overview Map

Fleet Lane Map

Woodlesford Map

Main Line Map

Announcement 1

Announcement 2

Detailed description (pages 64/65)

Property Consultation

Summary: branch line to Leeds 230km/h over M62, track height over Methley Lane 9m, steep dive into cutting under Fleet Lane, into 1 mile long tunnels, main line continues at 360km/h north on 29+m high 2.2km long viaduct – highest visual and biodiversity impact ratings!

The map above shows the approximate route of the main and branch lines, the tunnel section in orange and viaduct in yellow. For detailed maps please use the links above.

Woodlesford residents let down by LCC

Having tried to work with local labour councillors and Leeds City Council to secure a better future for Woodlesford and Leeds residents we have finally come to realise that they have no intention of doing so. And worse, they have deceived us and lied to us.

Despite the Chamber of Commerce and Civic Trust supporting the views of Leeds residents and businesses in representations to HS2 and LCC, the council continue to work their own agenda, fuelling a vanity project on the south bank at our expense.

Everyone is of the opinion that an integrated station, with a through route to the north, would be far more beneficial to travellers and the city. LCC on the other hand would rather have a disconnected terminus on the south bank.

Keep in touch with the latest news from SOWHAT on Facebook

See what WNYCoC and LCT have to say, and have your say before it’s too late:

Chamber Report

Trust News (page 4) and Report

HS2 Site

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?

Hyperloop One

While the UK has spent years (since 2009) on plans to build an outdated railway, the rest of the world has in less time invented and is now building a new revolutionary transport system that will truly stand the test of time.

UK Gov are spending £Bil on plans and have nothing to show for it, spades won’t hit the ground until at least 2017. Now take a look at Hyperloop One and see what the UK could be investing in.

First operation services are planned for 2020, costs are a fraction of those projected for HS2, and transit times are amazing… Leeds to London in approximately 15 minutes, services are on demand (i.e. no wait for the next timetabled departure), and ticket prices tiny due to low running costs.

A green transport system, extremely energy efficient, solar powered, and ticket prices in line with busses not trains or planes. This technology will overtake HS2, before it’s even finished.

December 2016 Update

This is the future, today – expected to be operation in Dubai, Slovakia and USA in just three years, and others close behind with projects already underway in Finland, Russia, Canada and Switzerland, and investment from the French Government too. Look how much progress they’ve made in three years compared to what HS2 have achieved in double the time. Embarrassing really. When will UK Gov invest in our future?


Consultations Update

There are currently two consultations being run by HS2 Ltd, one on the Phase 2 route which will run through our communities, the other on compensation for the London to Birmingham section.  It is essential that as many people as possible respond to both, so please get every member of your household, friends and family members, no matter where they live, to complete responses for each consultation or put in their own submissions – every household in the UK will be paying £3,000 for the pleasure of HS2 so it matters to everyone!

Responding couldn’t be easier just sign and date the responses, along with your name and address, and pop them in the post using the freepost address provided, or if local drop them at Smiffies or Swillington Community Centre letterbox (on the gate of Swillington Primary School gate).

Phase 2 Route Consultation

Following the recent HS2 Ltd roadshows in Leeds, Garforth and Rothwell the SOWHAT committee has produced a generic response letter to the Phase 2 route consultation which can be used by anyone wishing to put in a response but for whatever reason don’t want, or feel able to write an individual submission.  The letter has been posted out by Alec Shelbrooke MP to over 1,000 homes in the area, SOWHAT will be delivering to further houses, copies have been left in a number of local businesses (Smiffies in Woodlesford, Swillington Community Centre and others), plus it can be downloaded below.

If you would like to read more about the consultation, find out what questions are being asked, view route maps or find out about local issues such as noise, visual blight and construction impacts please see HS2 Ltd’s website at http://hs2.org.uk/phase-two/route-consultation/


Phase 1 Compensation Consultation

HS2 Ltd is currently holding a consultation into compensation on Phase 1, and it follows that what they get so shall we, so we need everyone to respond to this.

SOWHAT have adapted five versions of a postcard response produced by HS2 Action Alliance, which again can be used to respond to the compensation consultation.  A postcard has been sent out to over 1,000 homes in the area by Alec Shelbrooke MP, further will be delivered by SOWHAT, some are available to pick up at various local businesses, or each of the five versions is downloadable below in letter form (you need only print off one version, any will do).

Further information on the compensation consultation can be found on the HS2 Ltd website https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/hs2-property-compensation-consultation-2013



HS2 Response to route consultation FINAL
Phase 1 compensation consultation response 1
Phase 1 compensation consultation response 2
Phase 1 compensation consultation response 3
Phase 1 compensation consultation response 4
Phase 1 compensation consultation response 5

Phase 2 Route Consultation Roadshow

Friday 1st November 2013
Blackburn Hall, Rothwell
12noon to 8pm

Please attend, this is going to be your only chance to meet with HS2 Ltd during this consultation, to ask questions, highlight specific local issues and tell them how it will devastate our lovely villages and countryside.