YP Letters: Fears for Dearne Valley in slash and burn ahead of HS2

Should the brakes be put on HS2?Should the brakes be put on HS2?
Should the brakes be put on HS2?
From: Gill Price, Barnburgh, South Yorkshire.

IT’S July 2016, and we hear that someone has got hold of a pen and whipped a line through the countryside of South Yorkshire for another direction for HS2, avoiding the main industrial city of Sheffield altogether (The Yorkshire Post, September 16).

I can only speak about here, Barnburgh, a hill village from Anglo Saxon times, in a conservation area in the Dearne Valley. This is a small patch of countryside comparably, as there isn’t a lot in South Yorkshire, a precious area steeped in history.

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Like many villages in South Yorkshire, once mass coal was needed, the rural landscape changed dramatically; seams were mapped, shafts sunk and in 1911 the first on the edge of Barnburgh. At its peak, output was 450,000 tonnes per year with 1,090 men employed.

The Miners’ Strike of 1984/85 was a bitter industrial dispute and what we have left now, is 
the Pit Wheel to remind us of 
our proud heritage, and the ongoing re-generation of this area through grants and volunteers.

If HS2 gets the go-ahead, at Mexborough a new housing estate will be demolished. The residents have been given the letters; the builder has gone already, leaving buildings and roads unfinished. These houses offered an opportunity for families to leave their old Victorian terrace or parent’s house, and have a modern home.

This is affordable housing. The outgoing CEO of HS2 Ltd reputedly earns £750,000 a year, to oversee his representatives who turn up at a meeting with out of date maps, stating ‘ours hasn’t got a housing estate on it’! The Shimmer Estate at Mexborough of over 200 family homes will be erased.

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HS2 will cross the River Dearne destroying wetlands and bird sanctuaries, on an embankment over 20 metres high it will obliterate everything in its path, eventually reaching St Helen’s Lane on the outskirts of Barnburgh and the remains of a chapel. HS2 will continue, decimating the fields and woodlands with its 120 metre wide scar of a corridor, destroying wildlife, before carving its way through Barnburgh Cliff. It is a designated site of Special Scientific Interest.

This is a slash and burn policy, with total disregard for people and their lives. Money needs to be invested to support these communities and to get them back on their feet. Do something about the unemployed, homeless and families going to food banks. How can we have this in this civilised country and still say that spending over £80bn on a new train system is OK?