HIGH speed train tracks as wide as the M1 could ‘destroy’ the Erewash Valley when work starts on the second phase of a multi-million pound rail project in 2028 according to a former railway engineer.
Consultation started this week for the first phase of the High Speed Two (HS2) network which will see new infrastructure costing an estimated £34bn built to link London and Birmingham.
But as part of the second phase two further links could run from Birmingham to Leeds and Birmingham to Manchester with trains hitting speeds as high as 250mph.
The Department for Transport has not confirmed what route the tracks will take, but local rail enthusiast Brian Beer says the most obvious route would see high speed trains tearing through the middle of the Erewash Valley to reach Leeds.
At some points, four lines will run alongside each other – making the track as wide as a motorway.
Mr Beer, who used to work on the railways, contacted the Advertiser after attending a HS2 seminar in the West Midlands and discovering that Erewash could be affected by the next phase of the project even though there will be no station for the high-speed trains in the whole of Derbyshire.
After speaking with campaigners fighting phase one he said he wanted to inform people in Erewash of the potential for the tracks to destroy local countryside.
He said: “This project would ruin our beautiful countryside, it’s expensive, will cause massive disruption and will have little benefits for the area.
“The Erewash Valley would be destroyed if it’s decided that’s where the line will run and people living near to it will be badly affected.
“When work commences there will be a great deal of disruption and inconvenience to the region, not to mention loss of private property and farm land.
“When completed, the new line will subject local inhabitants to 95 decibels of roaring noise every time a train passes at 250mph.”
A spokesman for the Department for Transport said detailed options for lines of route to Manchester and Leeds are yet to be developed.
He added: “Subject to the outcome of the current consultation, the formal consultation on the route for this second phase of the network is planned for 2014.”
But Mr Beer is convinced that the Erewash Valley is in grave danger as he thinks the Leeds route will go via a new train station near East Midlands Airport in Leicestershire leaving the easiest route up through the countryside around Ilkeston.
And Paul Harvey, chairman of the local Green Squeeze campaign, said he shared his concerns.
He said: “HS2 is the latest crackpot idea to threaten our countryside. We don’t need it, we don’t want it and we can’t afford it.
“What we do need is for someone in government, local or otherwise, to finally get the message that the people of Erewash want their green space protected by law.”
Chris Barker, from the Campaign to Protect Rural England group, added: “I would have thought it will be difficult for the line to miss the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire countryside given what we know but nothing is definite yet.”
Meanwhile Green Squeeze have met Erewash Borough Council to push for a new law that will mean the land cannot even be looked at as an option for developers.
Mr Harvey said: “Every ten to 15 years something comes along with the capacity to ruin what many refer to as our own little national park.
“So far we have been fortunate that the various threats of the past forty years have failed however, the fact remains that this is mainly due to luck and the efforts of concerned and dedicated residents and not permanent protective legislation.”