New proposed HS2 route may be a threat to Erewash Greenbelt

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It was pleasing that all of the East Midlands Councils were unanimous in supporting the preferred route from Birmingham to Sheffield including the station at Toton.

At the HS2 Hub Station Delivery Board, I talked about the planning for Toton station with the Leaders of Notts, Derbyshire and Broxtowe. We discussed the need for any tram extension from Bardills island to go over the High Speed Line so that in the future the tram might go into Long Eaton town centre and perhaps Stanton, Ilkeston and even Derby. We knew that no formal decision on the route and station would be made until after the General Election but it was felt important that as much as possible of the planning should be done now.

Which brings us to the bombshell of last week, when a rumour began to circulate that the chairman of HS2 was going to suggest that instead of Toton the new HS2 station should be just South of Breaston. I was always aware that he was publishing a report on October 27, but the idea that he might support a route and station which had not even been looked at before came out of the blue.

It is incredible that as the host borough council of the rumoured Breaston station, or ‘Breaston Under Water Station’ as I call it to reflect the fact it would be on a flood plain, we should not be approached for our views. There had been no hint whatsoever that the route and station were being reconsidered and I pray that there is no truth in the story.

Toton is not a perfect site because of the need for considerable engineering work to prevent Long Eaton being cut in two, but that can be done over the next 15 to 20 years. More importantly, it is vital that those people who will be directly affected by the route receive proper and generous compensation and I always demand this during any discussions I have.

On the plus side, Toton does provide the one kilometer straight-line track needed for the station itself and has plenty of railway-owned land where the new industry and employment can be built. It is former industrial land so will not affect the green belt.

Conversely, it seems that ‘Breaston Under Water Station’ will be on a flood plain and be in Erewash’s Green belt.

If the Toton route is confirmed after the General Election, then I shall continue to support Toton as the East Midlands HS2 station, providing answers can be found to my concerns about compensation and the traffic around Long Eaton.

However, I do hope that the Report due on October 27 does not come up with a new route and station for HS2, because the impact this would have on our lovely villages such as Breaston and our Greenbelt would be unacceptable. The Core Strategy document defines our borough’s Greenbelt (including the Breaston area) and confirms your council’s stance of protecting it from developers. As Conservative leader of the borough council, and supported by the other Conservative councillors, I will fight tooth and nail to protect our green belt and the things that matter so much to us all.