VIDEO: HS2 high speed raiway impact lessons for South Yorkshire

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Environmental measures used to minimise the impact of Britain’s first high speed railway are set to be used on the HS2 network through South Yorkshire.

HS2 Limited showed The Star work which was undertaken on the HS1 Channel Tunnel Rail Link through Kent.

Medway viaduct is HS1's largest structure

Medway viaduct is HS1's largest structure

Bernard Gambrill, one of the leading civil engineers on the line, which was completed in 2007, said: “We had challenges, including heading over and under rivers, through tunnels under London and crossing an area of outstanding natural beauty. HS2 has similar pressures.”

Mr Gambrill also revealed the challenge of approaching landowners on the route – which included being confronted by a farmer with a shotgun.

But other issues were more successful, such as minimising the number of houses demolished.

“We took down just 12 properties along the route and 45 around St Pancras,” Mr Gambrill said.

Civil engineer Bernard Gambrill

Civil engineer Bernard Gambrill

“We did what we could to save every property.”

In one dramatic case, a grade II listed farmhouse at Mersham, Kent, was moved 500 metres – by constructing a new concrete foundation on top of greased concrete runners and rolled to its new position.

Noise-proof fencing up to two metres high was installed – in some cases cutting existing noise from the neighbouring M20.

Trees have been planted in clusters because Mr Gambrill said planting alongside the line would have drawn attention to it.

Andrew Went, lead engineer for HS2, said: “We will use similar principles for the lines north.”

RAIL BOOST INSULATED TOWN FROM DOWNTURN

Civic leaders on a town linked to London by Britain’s first high speed railway believe the route helped them avoid the recession.

Over the five years from 2007, when the high speed route into London’s St Pancras Station opened, the economy in Ashford, Kent, grew by 0.3 per cent in total – compared to a shrinkage of four per cent nationally.

The town has become more popular with commuters living there while catching new high speed services to the capital to work.

Coun Graham Galpin, of Ashford Council, said: “We are seeing economic growth, our population has risen by 5,000 and house prices have increased by an average of 15.4 per cent.

“QED – that’s happened since the railway opened.

“Ashford was previously not in a good place.”

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