DIVISIONS in South Yorkshire over HS2 have deepened with Barnsley’s two MPs demanding the original route for the high speed line through is unequivocally scrapped.
In a joint letter, Michael Dugher and Dan Jarvis say it is time to focus on the “opportunities and challenges” of the alternative route proposed last year
Their intervention comes just days after six fellow South Yorkshire Labour MPs signed a letter supporting the original route, known as the Meadowhall plan, and dismissing the case for the alternative proposal.
Under the original plans, the HS2 line was supposed to snake between Sheffield and Rotherham with services stopping at a new station at Meadowhall.
Last year, HS2 suggested scrapping the Meadowhall station and shifting the line further east, claiming it would save £1bn in construction costs.
A new spur from the line was proposed to take services into the existing Sheffield Midland station.
In their letter, the Barnsley MPs say they remain “committed” to HS2 which they believe will “make a significant impact on the region’s economy and future prospects for growth”.
It says: “It is increasingly evident that the Meadowhall option proposed in 2013 is not realistic and is not a location we would support. There must be no backtracking from the Government on the route.
“The ‘Meadowhall route’ cut through a large part of the Borough and many residents and businesses within Barnsley have endured four years of unwelcome uncertainty.
“It is time to take away the blight of uncertainty on our communities by formally withdrawing the Meadowhall option and focus on the opportunities and challenges of the new route, including promoting a meaningful and sensitive package of mitigation measures for those communities affected by the new route.”
The proposal to scrap the Meadowhall station idea and move the line further east with services serving Sheffield station has become a major source of friction between councils in South Yorkshire.
The change followed a campaign by Sheffield business leaders and Sheffield City Council arguing HS2 would have a bigger economic impact if it served a city centre station.
However, other South Yorkshire districts now feel they will suffer the impact from construction of the new line without the benefits of Meadowhall station.
Doncaster Council last week accused HS2 of using “sleight of hand” to support the change.