Could HS2 Birmingham-Leeds route be changed to 'appease' unhappy Wakefield?

The proposed route of HS2's second phase may be altered to "appease" politicians and campaigners in Wakefield who've opposed the scheme, it's been suggested.

The government confirmed HS2 would go ahead in full this week.
The government confirmed HS2 would go ahead in full this week.

Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery said the authority would fight to change the Birmingham-Leeds route, after the government confirmed the controversial project would go ahead earlier this week.

Wakefield stands alone in West Yorkshire in objecting to HS2, with Coun Jeffery recently saying she resisted pressure from other local leaders to sign a letter supporting it.

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As it stands, the line would go through South Kirkby, Hemsworth, Kinsley, Newstead, Fitzwilliam, New Crofton, Foulby, Crofton, Sharlston, Sharlston Common and New Sharlston.

Campaigners are still fighting the controversial scheme.

But speaking earlier this week, Coun Jeffery hinted officials at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) were looking at alternatives, in light of the opposition.

She said: "We’re opposed to HS2 because we don’t think it will benefit the Wakefield district, the environmental impact it will have on places like Nostell Priory and the damage it will do there.

"If it goes ahead, we’ll have to fight for benefits for the district and for a change to the route.

"Officers at WYCA are looking at perhaps changing the route to appease what we said the other week. We'll have to see."

Coun Jeffery said WYCA officials may look at changing the route as a compromise.

WYCA did not comment specifically on Coun Jeffery's remarks, but said it welcomed the government's announcement that HS2 will go ahead.

A spokesperson added: "The Combined Authority has continually made the case to Government and HS2 Ltd about changes to the proposed high speed rail line to better integrate it into the local network and with Northern Powerhouse Rail.

"We are pleased that government has listened and we remain committed to working with all our partner councils to maximise the benefits of HS2 for the whole region.”

Campaigner Jonathan Pile, from Crofton Against HS2, said Coun Jeffery's comments were "an interesting development".

Campaigner Jonathan Pile said there needed to be more transparency around the scheme.

He added: "There now needs to be genuine outreach from HS2 to critics and campaign groups like ourselves, who have something constructive to say.

"That needs to happen transparently, in public and not behind closed doors."

Local Democracy Reporting Service