THE Canal & River Trust has responded to the Government’s consultation on the next phase of the HS2 high speed rail line, and set out a series of measures to protect the nation’s historic waterways.
It has highlighted the key issues that could have a serious and adverse effect on parts of the canal network in the Midlands and Northern England. The charity has also set out a series of suggestions which will help to mitigate the effects of Phase 2B on the canal network and safeguard ongoing canal restoration projects.
Phase 2B will involve construction of a western line linking Crewe and Manchester and an eastern leg connecting Curdworth in Birmingham to Leeds. The lines will interact with the canal network at a number of locations and in its response the Trust has detailed the specific areas which could be most affected.
In particular the Trust has raised serious concerns over plans for a rolling stock depot near Crewe which would see a 100m wide four-track crossing over the popular Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. The response also sets out concerns regarding three crossings within a three kilometre length of the Trent & Mersey Canal near Northwich, a proposed diversion of the Erewash Canal and potential impacts on the restoration of the Ashby Canal and Chesterfield Canal.
During the consultation process for the first phase of HS2 the Trust, working with the Inland Waterways Association and other interest groups, was successful in securing a number of amendments to the proposals. An alternative alignment of the line in Staffordshire put forward by the two charities was adopted, protecting the scenic canal junction at Fradley and saving around £50m. A 350 metre extension of the Wyrley & Essington Canal near Cannock was also adopted into the plans to provide a future connecting point for the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals which are being carefully restored by volunteers.
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust said; “We have outlined very clearly our concerns about the potential impact of Phase 2B on parts of the canal network in the North and the Midlands.
“These routes interact with popular sections of canal and important restoration efforts, which will bring invaluable social and economic benefits to communities, so we strongly believe that the proposals need to be looked at in more detail.
“In partnership with our friends at the Inland Waterways Association and canal societies in affected areas we’ve worked well with HS2 Ltd throughout the project. Together we have developed alternative suggestions that have not only protected parts of the nation’s waterway network but also saved significant sums of money. We will continue to work hard to achieve the best possible outcome for our historic canals and the communities they serve and look forward to further dialogue on the proposals for Phase 2B.”
The Trust’s response can be viewed at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/the-hs2-rail-network-and-our-waterways/publications-and-consultation-responses