2015 News

HS2 Update and Phase 2a Fradley to Crewe Decision - December 2015

Phase 1 and Additional Provisions

IWA submitted its detailed response to the Supplementary Environmental Statement on Additional Provisions 2 (AP2) during September (see the HS2 Campaign pages on the main website).

Since then AP3, AP4 and AP5 have all been published but raised no further issues needing a response.

Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust is close to an agreement on ‘Assurances’ about full provision of a canal diversion at Cappers Lane.  Lichfield Cruising Club is making progress on their plans for replacement moorings and a slipway, but HS2 have still not committed to constructing this.

Meanwhile, IWA has received Promoter’s Response Documents from HS2 Ltd for our Phase 1 and AP2 petitions, which make few concessions, and we are currently expecting to put our case on the main outstanding issues about Wood End Lane and noise mitigation to the HS2 Commons Select Committee in late January.

Phase 2a Fradley to Crewe

On 30th November the Government announced its decision on the next phase of their High Speed Railway plans.  Part of the originally intended Phase 2 extensions to Manchester and Leeds is to be built 6 years earlier than originally planned as Phase 2a from Fradley to Crewe.  A second hybrid Bill will be published in 2017, with construction from 2019 and completion in 2027.

Only limited changes have been made from the route consulted on in 2013, but these include extending the viaduct to replace an embankment alongside Great Haywood marina to maintain access to the marina’s mooring pontoons, as IWA requested in January 2014 (see the full Phase 2 consultation response from Lichfield Branch ).  However, there are no construction details at this stage and IWA will continue to press for full noise fencing on the viaduct to mitigate noise impacts on the marina and the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Other changes include moving the start point of Phase 2a eastwards to link up with the revised AP2 alignment of the Manchester Branch crossing of the Trent & Mersey Canal above Shade House Lock at Fradley Junction, and continuing up to 30m further east for 2 km northwards.  This will take it a bit further away from the canal along the section between Wood End and Kings Bromley, although potentially still visible and audible due to being on embankment and viaducts, depending on the future details of the landscaping.

This latest announcement is not a consultation (except on property compensation) but includes nothing that IWA would object to.  It will be 2017 before the full engineering details and environmental statement are published when the Bill is deposited, which will trigger another petitioning opportunity.

Phase 2b

Decisions on the rest of Phase 2, the continuation of the western leg to Manchester and Wigan, and the eastern leg from Kingsbury to the East Midlands and Yorkshire, has been delayed by another year until autumn 2016, although changes to the station in Leeds have been agreed.

IWA continues to work closely with CRT and with all the affected canal restoration groups, boat clubs, etc. to put forward improvements to the plans wherever needed to protect the waterways.

Lichfield Branch Awards - September 2015

Committee with Branch Achievement Award 2015At the IWA national AGM in September the Branch Achievement Award was presented to Lichfield Branch.  Given to the branch that has made the greatest contribution to promoting the Association’s aims and objectives in the previous year, the award is a silver salver which was received by our Chairman Helen Whitehouse on behalf of the Branch.  This is the second time that the work of Lichfield Branch has been recognised, having previously won it in 2003.

The photo shows members of Lichfield Branch Committee with the Branch Achievement Award 2015.  From left: Phil Sharpe, John Stockland, Barbara Hodgson, Pete Gurney, Helen Whitehouse (holding the award), Denise Bending, Mike Bending.  (Not present: Pat Barton, Margaret Beardsmore, Christine Watkins.)

Phil Sharpe with Cyril Styring TrophyAlso honoured was Phil Sharpe who received the Cyril Styring Trophy, IWA’s premier award, which is made for an outstanding contribution to the Association’s campaign.  The citation recognised Phil’s involvement with waterways campaigning over 50 years, with particular reference to his lead role in the Birmingham Northern Relief Road Inquiry and more recently in the HS2 campaign.  The trophy is a silver model of a working narrow boat on a plinth recording the many distinguished previous winners. 

Both awards were on display to members at the Branch meeting in October where these photographs were taken.

Ashby Canal Restoration Progress - August 2015

Ashby Canal Bridge 62 constructionAshby Canal Bridge 62 with 'Wilkes Gob' bricksAshby Canal restored channel beyond pumping stationAshby Canal earthworks beyond Bridge 62Restoration of another section of the Ashby Canal is almost complete, including a new bridge, an extension to the restored channel and a 55ft winding hole, and volunteers have played an important part in building the bridge.

The original Bridge 62 was a brick arched accommodation bridge built to link the farmland on either side of the canal, and demolished after this section of the canal was abandoned in 1966.  Its modern replacement is a flat deck concrete structure of greater width and strength to carry modern farm machinery, but it’s been clad in historic brickwork thanks to help from Waterway Recovery Group volunteers.

On a weekend work party in July and during two weeks of Canal Camps in August the WRG volunteers helped face the wing walls and part of the parapets with “Wilkes Gob” bricks.  These unusually large bricks, local to the Measham area, were made to minimise the amount of brick tax being levied at the time and were used on the original bridge.  Many of them were uncovered when excavating the site of the old bridge, and some extra ones have been sourced locally from a demolished building.  (See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brick_tax )

The incremental restoration of the canal north from Snarestone towards Measham has been achieved in several phases over recent years, with a ¼ mile extension to the canal channel being opened in late 2014.  This and the current works have been funded by payments from UK Coal operations at the nearby Minorca surface coal mine, and constructed by contractors Eurovia working for Leicestershire County Council.  (See also 2014 News article ‘Coal from the Ashby Canal’ )

As well as the nearly completed canal extension, the bed of the canal beyond the bridge, almost up to the Gilwiskaw Brook, has been levelled in a major earth moving operation in preparation for the next phase of restoration.  However, consideration is being given to first building the new aqueduct needed and then extending the channel to meet it.  To make a donation to the Ashby Canal Association’s appeal for the aqueduct see: http://www.ashbycanal.org.uk/   

(Report and photos by Phil Sharpe)



HS2 Additional Provisions 2 - August 2015

IWA's Petition against Additional Provisions 2 (AP2) of the High Speed Rail Bill (HS2) was deposited with Parliament on 10th August for consideration by the HS2 Select Committee.  It covers our concerns about the proposed diversion route for Wood End Lane at Fradley (see the March and July updates below), the lack of provision of replacement moorings and slipway facilities for Lichfield Cruising Club at Cappers Lane, and noise and visual impacts on residential boaters and other users of the Slough Arm of the Grand Union Canal at Iver.

The text of the IWA HS2 AP2 Petition, including its introduction and closing paragraphs in the antiquated language required by Parliamentary procedure, can be seen here.


HS2 High Speed Rail Update - July 2015

The High Speed Rail Bill (HS2) Select Committee of the House of Commons resumed its sittings in June after the General Election, although with only 5 of the original 6 members as the Liberal Democrat MP had not been re-elected.  Since then 2 other members have resigned and 3 new members have been appointed.  It is to be hoped that this lack of continuity does not affect the committee’s understanding of petitioners’ concerns.

In June the Government published an Explanatory Information document for the second batch of Additional Provisions (AP2) just prior to a vote in Parliament which referred these to the Select Committee for consideration.  These provisions include the changed alignments around Lichfield, although at that stage the plans showed only the amended land requirements and no construction or environmental details.  It confirmed that they are still proposing to divert Wood End Lane alongside the Trent & Mersey Canal below Wood End Lock and rising onto a high embankment to cross the railway, which is the worst of several possible route options for the canal environment.

HS2 Woodend Lane - IWA alternative alignment
Our earlier meetings with Staffordshire County Highways, CRT and HS2 Ltd had revealed that other options were initially shown to SCC and CRT but they had never even attempted to consult IWA !  We have produced an alternative plan, and CRT has also suggested a further alternative, both of which would take the road diversion under rather than over the Handsacre Link tracks with minimal impact on the canal and the landscape.

The full details of the AP2 changes, including a Supplementary and Additional Environmental Statement, Plans and Sections were finally published on 17th July for a 6 week consultation but only a 4 week petitioning period.  IWA is examining all the details of the changes at Wood End and Cappers Lane, and also a new site adjoining the Slough Arm of the Grand Union Canal, in the expectation that we will again need to petition the HS2 Select Committee about AP2.  We are also working with CRT to align our representations.  As the committee’s provisional programme of hearings has already been published up to the end of October, our expected joint appearance will apparently not now be before then.


HS2 High Speed Rail Update – March 2015

The High Speed Rail Bill Select Committee has been hearing evidence and petitions about the HS2 bill since June 2014, but will not be sitting from late March until after the General Election due in May.

Petitions have generally been heard in a north to south direction, starting from Birmingham and Staffordshire, progressing through Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire to the edge of London.  Various sessions have covered the Digbeth Branch and Birmingham & Warwick Junction Canal crossings in Birmingham, the Birmingham & Fazeley Canal at Curdworth, the Oxford Canal crossing at Wormleighton, and the Grand Union Canal at Harefield.  But acceptance by HS2 Ltd of the alternative route avoiding most of the Trent & Mersey Canal crossings around Woodend, Fradley means that hearing the outstanding points of the IWA and CRT petitions has been postponed until the autumn, after the Alternative Provisions implementing the changes have been published, expected around July.

HS2 and Woodend Lane diversionWoodend
Meanwhile, the latest draft drawings for the Woodend area show the Up line of the Handsacre Link going under the Manchester spur rather than over it, which will help to further reduce the track levels near the canal.  However, repositioning the overbridge for the Wood End Lane road diversion, whilst it avoids a second bridge for the lock cottage access track, would result in a road embankment near the canal below Woodend Lock.

Cappers Lane
Discussions with HS2 Ltd by Lichfield & Hatherton CRT and Lichfield Cruising Club continue, but recent drawings for the Cappers Lane area show the canal will not need to be diverted as far as previously feared.  Although Cappers Lane Bridge will still be demolished, the canal diversion will have gentler bends and a full width channel under the new rail bridge.  The replacement road bridge will be closer to Watery Lane Bridge and the plans include provision of a moorings arm and replacement slipway for the club.

Phase 2
The public consultation on the HS2 Phase 2 lines to Manchester and Leeds closed in January 2014 but there has still been no government response or decision on the routes, and this is not now expected until the autumn at the earliest.  Likewise, any decision on the Safeguarding proposal for the Fradley to Crewe section seems unlikely before the election.  Surprisingly, the Select Committee has recently heard a number of petitions against Phase 2.  Although nominally limited to sections of the Bill that give wider powers over any further extensions of Phase 1 and to compensation issues, in practice the committee were quite indulgent of local concerns.

It is expected that the Select Committee will produce some form of interim summary report before the election, and it is possible of course that not all the committee members will be re-elected.  A change of Government after the election, or just a different balance of the parties and new priorities could also result in major changes to the project, or even its cancellation.

News Flash - 6th February 2015

According to the Staffordshire Police Canal Watch there have been 3 incidents of canal boats being broken into in the Stafford area recently, at Wildwood, Haywood and Wolseley Bridge. Boaters are recommended to ensure their craft are as secure as possible at all times.