WE ARE in no doubt the decision announced by Justine Greening recently concerning HS2 was the wrong one for this country and this locality.
There are many reasons for this, economic, environmental and financial as cited by the various interviewees in your articles (Banbury Guardian, January 12).
Our particular concern relates to the very special area of countryside to the west of Priors Hardwick, running from the Boddingtons in its south-east corner to Southam in its north-west corner, a space of 10 square miles of open countryside and farmland with no mettaled roads or industrial development.
It is crisscrossed by footpaths, virtually all farmed land is under stewardship schemes and the Oxford Canal winds its way across it. A haven for birdlife, it has acres of ancient ridge and furrow and is enjoyed by many people each year from all over Britain and beyond who walk, boat and ride there.
The proposed HS2 route would dissect it diagonally on raised embankment rising to eight metres above ground level a mile away from our village.
Like many other threatened communities we have endeavoured to enter into dialogue with HS2 Ltd to discuss mitigation should the scheme go ahead. We have been ignored and our request for mitigation is not acknowledged in the current plan – the proposed track is now higher than in consultation.
To date no recognition has been given to the effects this scheme would have on the environment. Like many people, we are wondering if we still live in a democracy.
On behalf of Priors Hardwick HS2 Action Group
THOSE who want to protect the whole of rural England should be supporting a high speed rail network in the United Kingdom, as CPRE does.
It will increase the capacity of the existing overcrowded rail network and reduce the need for new motorways, while offering hope of bridging the economic divide between north and south.
Except in difficult cases, like Lower Thorpe, the prospect of environmental damage from the new line is frequently exaggerated, sometimes wildly so. Where environmental risks are shown to be real, it may be possible to avoid them. When CPRE Northamptonshire responded to the Government’s consultation, we highlighted three significant threats in the county at Greatworth, Chipping Warden and Edgcote. In all three cases the line has been varied, and in the first two exactly as CPRE recommended.
The Government has said that it is still open to proprosals for further mitigation. CPRE’s experience suggests that constructive dialogue is the way forward.
Sir Paul Hayter
More letters in this week’s Banbury Guardian.