MP Dame Andrea Leadsom accuses HS2 of 'ruining' South Northamptonshire countryside after transport minister's tour to see problem areas

Commons told of fly-tipping fears as work on high-speed railway ramps up

By Kevin Nicholls
Monday, 7th February 2022, 10:35 am
Updated Monday, 7th February 2022, 10:36 am

An MP has accused HS2 of 'ruining' South Northamptonshire's countryside as work on the high-speed rail line ramps up.

Dame Andrea Leadsom said she fears an increase in fly-tipping after giving transport minister Andrew Stephenson a tour of problem sites in the area.

Councillors recently revealed plans to spend £150,000 on employing an HS2 marshall to keep an eye on work in the area.

HS2 is 'ruining' Northamptonshire countryside, says a local MP

In the Commons last week, she asked the minister: "Ever more areas of South Northamptonshire are now being ruined and dug up just in preparation for the line.

"What steps can he take to make sure that they do not become a place for fly-tipping, which we are seeing all too frequently?"

Mr Stephenson replied: "HS2 Ltd takes its responsibilities to secure and maintain land along the line of route extremely seriously.

"I thank my right honourable friend for taking the time to show me some of the specific problem sites when I visited her constituency.

"Where fly-tipping or littering occurs, HS2 Ltd must act to address it as soon as possible."

An HS2 spokesperson insisted it was already doing just that, adding: "We are working to reduce disruption during construction and keep our sites clean and tidy, with regular litter picking and security on site to deter illegal fly-tipping.

"In Chipping Warden we have delivered a relief road to take construction traffic out of the centre of the village and we are building a ‘green tunnel’ to protect views across the countryside and maintain access for the community.”

Work started in 2020 on 13 miles of HS2 through the south of the county, running through two tunnels and over three viaducts along a route just north of Brackley and close to a number of villages.

Tunnels at Greatworth and Chipping Warden will be built in Derbyshire before being shipped to site and assembled to reduce disruption and improve efficiency. Once complete, the structures will be covered with earth and landscaped to blend in with the surrounding countryside.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave the go-ahead for HS2 despite fierce opposition and phase one of the line between London and the Midlands is expected to be open between 2029 and 2033 at a cost somewhere between £72billion and £98billion.

South Northamptonshire MP Dame Andrea last year admitted she is 'ashamed' of how locals blighted by the project have been treated.

West Northamptonshire Council earmarked money from the authority's reserves over the next three years for an HS2 Marshall tasked with ensuring:

■ Communities have a voice and are listened to

■ Planning conditions are complied with

■ Road closures are properly managed

■ Delivery vehicles follow the correct routes and that heavy deliveries are managed

■ Damage to public property, especially highways, caused by the development is remedied

A West Northamptonshire spokesman said: "Our members are keen to have feet on the ground, with someone overseeing the development activity and ensuring that appropriate community engagement takes place, enabling issues of concern to the affected communities to be fully addressed."