Villagers draw up battle plans for HS2

Residents in Church Fenton vote overwhelmingly to fight the proposed HS2 route.
Residents in Church Fenton vote overwhelmingly to fight the proposed HS2 route.

ANGRY villagers who claim a high-speed rail link will be the worst blight on their communities for five centuries packed a public meeting to draw up battle plans to fight it.

Residents of Church Fenton, and surrounding villages turned out in force to condemn the £32bn HS2 scheme a week after draft plans for the high-speed rail link from London to Yorkshire were unveiled.

Four properties would be bulldozed to make way for the junction to create a link to York and they claim that many more will be blighted by the roar of the 200mph trains passing over the village across two 60ft tall viaducts.

Residents queued to get into the meeting chaired by parish councillors Andrew and Jo Mason who are setting up an action group to fight the proposal “on all fronts”.

Mrs Mason warned that villagers felt like they had been “mugged” by the Government, having already been warned by estate agents that property prices would be hit for a considerable distance from the proposed line.

“Since the Battle of Towton 552 years ago this is the worst thing that’s happened to the village,” Mr Mason said. “It’s playing politics with people’s lives. It’s about house prices. It’s about protecting the environment. We have to do it together.”

Mrs Mason told the meeting that out of the 170,000 homes blighted by the previous stage of the scheme only 183 residents had received a penny consultation.

“Compensation is thin on the ground and very hard to get,” she added. “Not many people are able to jump through the kind of hoops they are putting in your way.

“Compensation apart from the very few is practically non-existent.”

Ian Jordan, HS2 Ltd Director for Leeds, Manchester and Heathrow, said: “The Government is bringing forward the public consultation on the routes north of Birmingham to start later this year - and this will give everyone a chance to have their say before any decision is taken on where the line will finally run.

“The Government and HS2 Ltd will continue to work closely with communities and interested parties to refine plans to find the right balance between delivering essential infrastructure and respecting the rights and concerns of those most affected.”