HS2: Solihull villagers protest against lorry route plans
Hundreds of Solihull villagers have backed a campaign calling for a major rethink of HS2’s plans to bring huge numbers of lorries through the community.
As reported last week, contractors have outlined proposals for HGVs to use roads in Balsall Common up to 200 times a day, with the heaviest usage lasting some three and a half years.
But there has been a massive backlash against the routes set out in three separate planning applications.
Within a little over 24 hours, a petition demanding that the plans as they stand be rejected had received more than 800 signatures.
Campaigners argue that only a “continuous trace-line haul route” from the Park Lane compound to the depot at Waste Lane would be an acceptable option.
They maintain this would mean far less disruption for residents and in fact appeared to be the rail project’s original intention, based on previous reports from two years ago.
HS2 Ltd has insisted that its proposals have been drawn up to limit the local upheaval, but it now faces a fresh battle to persuade those worried about noise, fumes and safety on “narrow rural lanes”.
Laura Quirke, among those to put their name to the petition, said: “HS2 should be working to minimise the impact of its destructive work on the communities it is disrupting.
“And to be held to account for seemingly hoping their original plans and promises have been conveniently forgotten.”
Another objector said: “I live in Balsall Common and the traffic is heavy at the best of times and when there is a real problem with the motorway or the A46 it’s going to be a nightmare around here.”
Berkswell resident Sheila Cooper, who has been one of the most vocal critics of local proposals, seemed heartened by the “groundswell” of support for this fresh attempt to force a rethink.
She has argued that the plans, as they currently are would have a serious impact on residents’ “daily lives.”
“The use of Euro VI HGVs [a more eco-friendly type of truck] does not prevent airborne pollution from brake pads, tyre wear and road degradation,” she said.
“An alternative continuous trace-line haul route can be constructed on land already owned by HS2 Ltd.”
Petition organiser Andrew Ogilvie confirmed yesterday that the campaign had also secured support from Meriden MP Saqib Bhatti and all three ward councillors – Ken Allsopp, Tony Dicicco and Diane Howell.
It’s understood that the signatures will be taken to the final full council of this municipal year on April 13, ahead of what is set to be a crucial planning committee meeting.
Both HS2 and its construction contractor Balfour Beatty Vinci have insisted their plans – which depend heavily on the use of Hallmeadow Road, but also take in other local routes – are intended to bypass more heavily populated areas.
At the start of the month councillors were told that the intention was also to limit usage of the A452 Kenilworth Road, which is particularly busy at peak times.
Andy de Bell, from Balfour Beatty Vinci, said that the company was committed to regular dialogue with residents and being “sensitive” to local concerns.
“We have tried to bring down both the volumes and time spent on public highways,” he said.
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
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