HS2 Committee backs calls to protect historic canals

HS2 Committee backs calls to protect historic canals

25 February 2016

IWA and Canal & River Trust have welcomed the Second Special Report by the HS2 Select Committee which includes improved protection for canals along the route of the new high speed rail line.

The report follows representations from many petitioners over the last few months, including a co-ordinated response from the The Inland Waterways Association, Canal & River Trust and canal societies to protect the use, attractiveness and historic character of the waterways.  As a consequence there will be further work by HS2 to improve the design and alignment of bridge crossings along the route and “a presumption that the perspective of canal users will be strongly taken into account in the design of infrastructure”.

IWA Navigation Committee Chairman, Gren Messham, who represented IWA at the Select Committee hearing, said: “Whilst the report’s findings do not give the level of assurance on noise mitigation that IWA was looking for, we are pleased to note that low-level noise mitigation will apply on all canal crossings.  We are also pleased to see assurances that canals and boaters are to be protected at several locations specifically from the impacts of HS2, whether during construction or operation, and that there will be a presumption that the perspective of canal users will be strongly taken into account in the design of infrastructure.”

Other headlines from the report include:

  • Trent & Mersey Canal – HS2 to review the alignment of Wood End Lane to move it way from the canal
  • Wyrley & Essington Canal - HS2 to fund replacement accommodation for Lichfield Cruising Club
  • Birmingham & Fazeley Canal – the Committee calls for a “positive architectural legacy” from the viaduct crossing the canal at Curdworth
  • Grand Union Canal, Wendover Arm - expectation that HS2 will prioritise early investigation into the impact of the proposed railway on water supplies to the Arm and nearby Weston Turville Reservoir
  • Grand Union Canal, Slough Arm – a commitment that HS2 will, if necessary, provide temporary accommodation for moorers affected by construction and will avoid any non-essential intrusion into the character of the canal area
  • Grand Union Canal, Colne Valley Viaduct – needs of boat owners and other residents along the canal to be accommodated, and HS2 challenged to improve the design of the viaduct 

You can download a list of extracts from the report that relate to canals, or read the full copy of the report on the Parliamentary website.

The next stage will be for any changes to be incorporated into the Bill before it moves into the House of Lords, with Royal Assent anticipated at the end of 2016.  Works are due to start some time during 2017.

Since the High Speed Rail project was announced in 2012, the Canal & River Trust and The Inland Waterway Association have worked closely with canal societies, the Government and HS2 Ltd to protect the nation’s historic waterways and improve the HS2 rail link.  This has resulted in significant changes to the scheme, leading both to cost savings and environmental benefits.  The decision in 2014 to realign the rail route to avoid the Fradley Junction area of the Trent & Mersey Canal was an example of this success.

Find out more about IWA's HS2 campaign.

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