Communities in North Warwickshire face further uncertainty after the Government failed to provide confirmation of the HS2 Phase Two route.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin MP has said that the route, which was due to be confirmed this year, will not be officially unveiled by the Government until Autumn 2016.
The legislation to build the HS2 Phase One route from London to Birmingham is currently being passed through Parliament while the eastern leg of Phase Two, known as the ‘Y route, which extends the line to Leeds, remains on the drawing board.
Cllr Peter Butlin, Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for HS2, said: “The lack of clarification from the Government on HS2 Phase Two remains a substantial concern to the council, and also to the many communities who live close to the projected route. It is essential that those who are affected are given a degree of certainty, one way or another, on what the plans are for this section.
“We would urge the Government to finalise their plans and communicate this swiftly with residents along the route. In the meantime, we are continuing to support communities in North Warwickshire to ensure that they are kept informed of developments and are as equipped as possible to deal with the ramifications of Phase Two when the time arrives.”
Since the consultation on the proposed route alignment for HS2 Phase Two closed on 31 January 2014, there has been virtual silence from the Government. Mr McLoughlin said that the Department for Transport is committed to the project and will build the western section to Crewe ahead of the schedule, but stopped short of making a full route announcement.
The eastern leg of the ‘Y route’ to Leeds is proposed to run through North Warwickshire, affecting communities at Bodymoor Heath, Kingsbury, Birchmoor, Polesworth, Warton and Austrey.
The original Government timetable for Phase Two was to start construction in 2024 and open the line in 2033. The latest timetable is for construction to start on the eastern section in 2026.
Cllr Butlin added: “Whether people agree with the merits of HS2 or not, as a council we have to be pragmatic and work towards mitigating the impact of the project on Warwickshire, as we have demonstrated in our approach to Phase One of the scheme.”
Cllr Brian Moss, Labour Group spokesman on HS2, said: “Residents in the Kingsbury area are doubly affected by phases one and two of HS2 and the lack of transparency is unfair and unjust. There are many issues which remain unresolved.”
Liberal Democrat Group spokesman Cllr John Whitehouse said: “We have seen at first hand the negative impact HS2 has had on the lives of people in Warwickshire for over five years and have opposed the project locally since the beginning. We retain hope that a better alternative scheme can be delivered in its place.”