Still HS2 hope - despite town disappointment

HS2 image
HS2 image
  • Councillors have branded the HS2 committee’s decisions “disappointing”
  • The case for Burton Green has been highlighted as a blow to communities
  • Jeremy Wright says the fight is not over for compensation measures

Disappointment was in the air across Kenilworth and Burton Green as decisions over HS2 are set in and work continues to find a fair deal for residents.

The HS2 Select Committee last week announced that Burton Green would not get a deep-bore tunnel and that Kenilworth’s traffic would be monitored.

They were part of it’s first decisions after months of petitioning by residents.

Councillors and campaigners have expressed disappointment over the decisions, but with hope that there is still time for a better deal to be found

Conservative Parliamentary candidate Jeremy Wright said that while a deep-bore tunnel would have been the “best outcome” for the village, it was certainly not the final word on mitigation measures alongside the high speed track.

“I don’t think the argument for it could have been better presented,” he said.

“I do think all the petitioners were given a fair hearing by the committee, but I regret that they were not persuaded.

“I think it’s crucial now to recognise though that the decisions of the committee are not all unhelpful. It is not their last word and that there is still more to do to obtain effective mitigation and compensation.”

Cllr Bob Stevens, Warwickshire County Council’s HS2 cabinet member said: “It is an immense disappointment that the committee has virtually dismissed the case for better design solutions for our communities.

“In any case, we are eager to see that the review ordered into lowering the line will result in reducing the noise and visibility of HS2, particularly in rural areas.”

It is an immense disappointment that the committee has virtually dismissed the case for better design solutions for our communities

Cllr Bob Stevens

Warwick district councillor, George Illingworth (Con, Abbey) described it as a “great disappointment” that Burton Green’s tunnel had been rejected, but agreed there was still hope for improvements.

“If anywhere is deserving of a tunnel it is Burton Green,” he said. “The good news is, if it is good news, that there is a lot of scope now for a new village hall and plans are being made for that in the village.

“The committee has recognised that there is a problem in Kenilworth with business and traffic, which we are glad has been taken on board.

“This very clearly is an issue, and we are still very concerned about the A46 and access. But of course compensation is a big issue which a lot of people are waiting to hear more about.”

Dealing with compensation, the committee of MPs, which will resume sessions after the General Election, announced it will monitor applications made to the Need-to-Sell scheme from the Crackley area to ensure fairness.

The Government buyout scheme is open to those living outside the 120-metre safeguarded zone who wish to move - but has been criticised for not helping keep communities together.

Guidelines from HS2 Ltd state that the Need-to-Sell scheme is open to anyone with a “compelling reason to sell but can’t as a direct result of the announcement of the HS2 route”.

Compelling reasons include unemployment, relocation or ill health - but each is judged on its merits. Traffic management will continue to be addressed by Warwickshire and Coventry highways authorities and the University of Warwick.