HS2 Campaign Overview

IWA has been campaigning since 2010 to mitigate the effect of the HS2 high speed rail line between London, the Midlands and the North.

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The first phase of the HS2 high speed rail scheme is now going ahead following a Government decision, and IWA has confirmed that it will continue its decade-long campaign to protect the waterways from the worst effects of its construction and operation.  

IWA has achieved several changes to the project since 2010 but continues to be concerned about noise and other impacts on many waterways and its damaging effects on some canal restoration schemes.  IWA has also now responded to a consultation on the future of the Phase 2b proposals in the North and Midlands.  

Background to IWA’s involvement

IWA has engaged with HS2 since 2010 on behalf of its individual and corporate members and the wider public interest in waterways.  Over the years we have commented in detail on numerous consultations for all phases of HS2 and have given evidence to Parliamentary Select Committees.

IWA celebrated a major victory in 2014 when it persuaded the Government to change the route of the Handsacre Link near Lichfield to avoid two crossings of the Trent & Mersey Canal which would have seriously damaged the environment, tranquillity and heritage of the canal around Woodend Lock above Fradley Junction.  Working in conjunction with Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust, Lichfield Cruising Club and Canal & River Trust, IWA also secured assurances that HS2 will build a canal diversion and fund a replacement moorings basin at Cappers Lane in Lichfield when the canal bridge there is demolished for an HS2 viaduct.

Other changes IWA has campaigned for include lowering the height of the viaducts around Kings Bromley, additional noise fencing at Fradley and Great Haywood, and improvements to the design of the viaduct over the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal at Curdworth.

IWA has campaigned nationally by responding to the many consultations, attending exhibitions, meeting HS2 engineers and liaising with construction contractors.  IWA has petitioned Parliament three times and given evidence to both House of Commons and House of Lords Select Committees in 2016 and 2018 on a range of issues, including the need for better noise protection at all the locations where HS2 crosses or runs close to waterways.

Keeping up with HS2 by reading all the reports and examining all the relevant plans has been a massive undertaking but we will continue to engage with all the HS2 public consultations and to campaign for better protection for the precious environment of our navigable and restorable waterways.

Government Decision

The Government’s decision is to proceed with Phase 1 and Phase 2a of HS2, from London to Birmingham and via Fradley to Crewe, although it is not yet clear if this includes the Handsacre Link.  The Oakervee Review report clearly recommends removing this connection to the West Coast Mainline which would be costly to build and of limited use.  Its route still passes close to the Trent & Mersey Canal and the diversion of Wood End Lane there will be intrusive so IWA supports its deletion from the project.

On Phase 1 IWA remains particularly concerned about the noise impact on the tranquil summit section of the Oxford Canal near Wormleighton.

Phase 2a will cross the Trent & Mersey Canal at Great Haywood on a viaduct right alongside the marina and IWA is represented on the Trent-Sow advisory group which has produced a Design Principles document to help mitigate its construction and operational impacts.  The group has also obtained funding from HS2 for environmental enhancement works that are likely to include towpath improvements.

Phase 2b of HS2 includes Crewe to Manchester and Wigan and the eastern leg from Birmingham to Leeds, and affects 16 waterways in at least 22 locations.  IWA has major concerns about its impacts on the Trent & Mersey Canal north of Middlewich, the Ashby Canal restoration at Measham, the Erewash Canal at Sandiacre, and the Chesterfield Canal restoration at Staveley.