Campaigners from villages near Leamington put forward petitions to reduce impact of HS2 route

Computer-generated visuals of HS2
Computer-generated visuals of HS2

Campaigners from villages near Leamington have put three key suggestions before a parliamentary select committee which 
they believe will reduce the 
impact of HS2 on the area they live in.

Representatives of the joint parish council of Offchurch, Eathorpe, Hunningham and Wappenbury, Cubbington parish council, Weston-Under-Wetherley and the Cubbington and Offchurch HS2 action groups appeared at Westminster on Tuesday to put their case forward to the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill Select Committee.

The three main changes and additions they would like to be made to HS2’s current plan are a 1.7 kilometre deep bore tunnel under Cubbington wood, a cut and cover tunnel in Offchurch and a reduction of the height of the track back to the level it was at when plans were released in 2011.

The various groups put forward five petitions all with common issues regarding the protection of their villages and the Leam Valley.

Peter Delow, chairman of Cubbington’s HS2 action group and vice chairman of the village’s parish council, said: “We appreciate that HS2 has to cross the Leam Valley but it is important that the visual impact is minimised.

“South Cubbington Wood is ancient woodland and it would be impossible to replace if it is lost or damaged.

“The promoter here has the responsibility to sell its proposal to the local community, we need to know what the advantages of the current plans are and what way they are mitigating the impact on the area.

“We have no idea what will be done to reduce the noise - we feel HS2 Ltd needs to be able to produce information that is accessible by the average resident.”

The committee also heard from Prof Mike Geddes, chairman of the Offchurch action group who also spoke on behalf of the joint parish council.

He said a cut and cover tunnel would minimise the negative impact the line could have on the village and its surrounding countryside.

Endorsing what had been said by his fellow campaigners, Weston-Under-Wetherley parish council’s vice chairman Peter Haine said: “We do recognise the national need for new infrastructure be we also hope that in meeting this need the needs and hopes of local residents are taken into the equation.”

The petitions will play a part in shaping the final bill for HS2.

* Cubbington falconer Robert Edwards went before the committee on Tuesday to put his case for compensation across.

The Leicester Lane resident, who keeps eight birds of prey on his premises, lives about 175 metres from the planned track and said he would be “literally surrounded” by construction works if or when the building project for HS2 gets underway.

He said that his business, which he set up in 2002, would be impacted in that a nearby field, where a farmer allows him to exercise his birds, will be lost to the works and that finding another suitable site where he could both live and keep the animals would be difficult and expensive.

He also raised concerns about stockpiles of earth at the construction site, which could cause his birds to catch aspergillosis, a “killer” respiratory condition, from airborne fungus.

Committee members were sympathetic to Mr Edwards’ situation and recommended a detailed exploration into a package and solution to help him.