Gaps in the compensation system, businesses under threat and blight on the countryside, and traffic problems.
These are the concerns that are still worrying residents over plans to drive HS2 through the borough, as residents demanded answers from the organisation in charge of the planned scheme at a public consultation this week in Mexborough.
Hundreds of concerned residents met with HS2 staff to discuss the latest proposals for how the route would be built through Doncaster at the event at the Pastures Hotel, on Pastures Road, Mexborough.
Staff showed residents how they would build trees along the route to screen it from view – but residents told of their fears for the future, more than two years after the route was first announced.
One couple, Cherie and David English, who live in Thryburgh, own two houses on the Shimmer estate, Mexborough, which they rent out as private landlords.
They have already seen the HS2 plans hit them in the pocket – but have been told they will not get compensation because they fall through the net.
She brought with her a copy of a letter from the Department for Transport, confirming that the existing rules meant she would get nothing, even though her properties are in the area designated by HS2 as a protected area.
It stated: “Although her (Mrs English’s) properties are both within an area which has been safeguarded for the future construction and operation of HS2, Mrs English is not eligible to sell the properties to the secretary of state in advance of their need because she does not fulfill the qualifying interest requirement set out in the Town and Country Planning Act, 1990. Whilst I sympathise with her position, I am unable to change what is an important principle of compensation law and applies to all Government infrastructure schemes.
“Statutory blight does not extend to investment owners under established law, the principle being, among other things, owners can continue to rent out their property on the open market. If a rented property is required for the railway, then the owners would be entitled to statutory compensation at that stage.”
Mrs English is angry that she has been missed out for compensation.
She said: “We don’t fall into any of the compensation categories, because we’re not owner occupiers.
“We have already seen the impact on the HS2 on us, when we wanted a new tenant. We couldn’t find someone from April to August. That is a long time in the letting market.
“In the past we had been getting £535 per calendar month.
“We’ve only been able to get £480. We can’t afford for our properties not to be let. We have to pay expenses like council tax on them.”
She said the tenant had left because she had heard about HS2.
“I want the same rights as everyone else and feel like we’re being discriminated against. We could lose our houses if we can’t get rent for them,” she added.
Businessman Robin Davies is also concerned for the future of his business because of the HS2 plans.
He run the Platinum Interiors retail showroom on Doncaster Road, Mexborough. He also leases a warehouse on Clay Pit Lane, Mexborough, to keep his stock.
The planned HS2 track runs between the warehouse and the showroom. But he fears plans to build a compound for the construction will effectively block access to his warehouse.
“They would be taking over the access, but leaving the building,” he said.
“I am also concerned that we could be affected by traffic measures, that could affect the business’ income, and job security.
“I’m concerned that this could potentially put me out of business.”
Mr Davies’ shop also has seven flats on the upper floor, which are currently let. He is concerned these could also be affected by any noise and disruption.
Close to the hotel were consultation was talking place, is a plot of around 250 acres of farmland owned by builder Richard Bailey, from Wadworth.
The land is currently farmed, leased to a farmer. But he would like to use some of it for housing at some point in the future.
He said the rail scheme will not help the chances of building, and will reduce its value.
Mexborough's Doncaster ward councillors, Bev Chapman, Sean Gibbons, and Andy Pickering, had previously raised concerns that a site of 489 proposed new homes in Pastures area may not now be viable due to HS2 safeguarding. Coun Gibbons has also said he believes residents are now become aware of the effect construction will have on traffic in the town, when construction compounds are built.
Mr Bailey said :“It’s not effected us yet, but I think it is a disaster for this valley. It is going to make such a blight on the area that Mexborough doesn’t deserve. It’s so sad.”
But it was not just money that is worrying residents. Among those wanting the plans changed were a number of residents from Clayfield Avenue.
Under the plans, they would have the railway build yards from their back gardens.
One resident, Gillian Brackley, said: “It will run at the back of our house. They are also talking about having a compound there.
“I’m angry about this. There are so many other things the billions of pounds that they are spending on this could be used for. Our houses are probably close enough that we may get compensation, but that's not the point. It will spoil my view over the countryside, and I have my children and my grandchildren to think about.
“They are talking about 14 trains an hour. It’s not just about the noise. Are they going to even fill these trains?I suspect not. They’ve not been able to give me any re-assurances, but just say ‘we will all benefit. I won’t – I don’t even go to London once a year.”
HS2 spokesman Stephen McFarlane said he thought people were grateful HS2 had been able to come to provide more information about what the plan meant for the local area, and how it was going to go about constructing it, as well as the local environmental impact will be, and how it could mitigate against that.
He said: “It is an opportunity for people to talk to us and have their say about things like the traffic impact, the visual impact, and how we should go about construction.
“It is important that we give people the chance to look at the plans and tell us how it will affect their use of the road network to go to schools, the local shops or other important services. Then we can work with the local authorities to mitigate those issues.
“There is also a lot of interest in screening, and the trees that we will be planting.It is important that people respond to the consultation so we can take it back and see if there are things that we can do differently.
He added HS2 had property experts who had been speaking to home owners and compensation schemes were over and over and above the legal requirements. But arrangements depended on each individual case, and the rules were decided by the Government.
Consultation runs until December.
This week’s consultation came after HS2 recently denied claims that transport secretary Chris Grayling told rail industry chiefs that phase two may not get built.
A report in the Sunday Telegraph quoted Mr Grayling as telling a rail conference in London that HS2’s second phase was “not in the bag” and could be scaled back and ‘still needed support if it was to definitely go to Leeds’.
HS2 dismissed the claims as “nonsense”, while the Department for Transport said the claims were untrue.
Campaign group's concerns
The campaign group Mexborough Area Against HS2 had raised a number of concerns over the plans. They are:
~Large section of Denaby Wood to be lost / used as construction compound.
~Work to traverse Denaby Lane for several years.
~Significant proportion of Denaby Wetlands to be lost / occupied.
~Most of Shimmer estate to be required for construction. Almost a third a properties demolished, with western end of Shimmer estate effectively cut off.
~Land between Jet Garage, Canal and Doncaster Road to be used as construction compound for several years.
~Land on opposite side of canal to Pastures Lodge / Best Western Hotel to be used to store construction material for several years.
~Homes on Pastures Court, Clayfield Avenue, Mallory Drive etc to face several years of construction work / material storage.
~Residential and commercial properties on and just off Doncaster Road will be demolished.
~Melton View / Lavenders estate effectively surrounded by construction work for several years.
~Doncaster Road, Pastures Court, Pastures Road facing several years of construction traffic.
Northern Powerhouse Rail
Northern Powerhouse Rail is more important for the North than HS2 says Don Valley’s MP, Caroline Flint.
The Don Valley MP pressed Ms Bernadette Kelly, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport, the most senior civil servant in the Department, over whether it might represent better value to press ahead with the new Northern Powerhouse Rail, also knowns as HS3, ahead of HS2.
Ms Flint said at the Commons Public Accounts Committee: “This project, some would say is cheaper per mile, less new track and quicker to deliver than HS2. So I wondered if work is going on in the Department to compare both cost, delivery and impact of HS3 against the second phase of HS2?”
The MP went on to ask about giving priority to HS3.
Ms Kelly replied: “That would be somewhat extraordinarily difficult, simply because it is some way back in terms of a strategic development, design and all those things that need to be done for Northern Powerhouse rail to be delivered.”
Ms Flint, a co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Northern Powerhouse has argued that HS3 would represent greater value for the North and unlock £100 billion of new investment for the North’s economy.
Speaking after the PAC session, Ms Flint said: “The more HS2 progresses, the more the cost rises and the impact changes. It seems clear that HS3 – Northern Powerhouse Rail, is far less complicated, requires less new track, and would be quicker to build than HS2. It is also clear that it brings greater benefits to the North.”
HS2 spokesman Stephen McFarlane said HS2 formed an important element of parts of the Northern Powerhouse Rail plans, with some of it intended to use HS2 tracks, such as the Clayton junction which would speed up journeys to Leeds.