For, while the regeneration benefits to cities like Leeds and Sheffield are considerable, Britain’s most complex ever infrastructure project will blight communities along the route. This explains why bosses at HS2 Ltd – and the Department for Transport – are going to great lengths to include additional tunnelling and other mitigating measures in the Chilterns.
If only the same could be said about the organisation’s dealings with this region. Not only do newly-constructed housing estates in South Yorkshire face demolition, but both the Woodland Trust, and the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, feel that HS2 bosses are paying insufficient regard to the potential fate of 19 ancient woodlands in the area.
Even though a HS2 spokesman says these concerns will be considered, and that steps are being taken to lessen the impact of high-speed rail on the natural environment, mistrust has grown as a result of the project’s mishandling to date.
And given that many people here believe the priority should be improvements to local and regional rail services as punctuality reaches a 13-year low, it is even more important that HS2 try to build bridges with communities. If not, they risk a political opportunist like Boris Johnson scrapping the scheme because they do not understand its importance.