HS2 Sheffield: U-turn a “victory for common sense” says council leader
Rotherham Council’s leader says the government’s U-turn on the Eastern leg of HS2 is a “victory for common sense”.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps unveiled the government’s £96bn Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) today, and confirmed that the HS2 link from Birmingham to Leeds via Sheffield is to be scrapped.
The link was proposed to provide a faster rail route between Birmingham and Leeds, running through South Yorkshire, affecting thousands of residents in Bramley, Aston and Wales.
Instead, the existing Midland Mainline will be electrified, according to the plan, which will provide the same high speed journeys from London to Sheffield as originally planned.
Rotherham council leader, Councillor Chris Read said the governement’s decision to scrap the Eastern leg is a “victory for common sense at last”, but urged Ministers not to “slash and burn” the scale of investment in northern rail services previously promised.
Rotherham council first formally lodged its opposition to HS2 in September 2016 through a motion to full council following a decision to re-route the line.
The plan says that Rotherham could benefit from the new route “depending on decisions beyond the IRP core pipeline.”
The plan also states that the government “does not intend to lift safeguarding on the previously proposed HS2 route at this time”.
Councillor Read said: “There is strong opposition to HS2 from communities across Rotherham because of the damage it threatened to do to local communities while offering next-to-no benefit for our residents or economy.
“I always said this was a fight we could win, and so it has turned out to be. It is a victory for common sense at last and local campaign groups should take huge credit for their steadfast opposition – it is them I am most happy for today, and the government must give them cast iron guarantees that their nightmare is over.
“The reality is that this was a mess of this government’s own making, which has hung over our communities for far too long already.
“The government have finally landed on a solution which hinges on electrifying the Midland Mainline – a scheme they shelved years ago despite lobbying from South Yorkshire.
“Now they must keep their wider ambition for rail in the North, not just slash and burn.
“That means supporting us to bring Rotherham rail services back onto the mainline for the first time in a generation, ensuring no local journeys between Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster and Leeds are lost, and creating enough capacity on the network north of Sheffield to ensure Midland station isn’t the end of the line.”