HS2 – Birmingham to Leeds

In Autumn 2013 the Government announced that their preferred route for the eastern leg of the high speed rail route past Birmingham would follow the M42 between Birmingham and the M1.  The short section between Austrey and Packington, which includes Appleby, has been highly contested and not finally resolved.  We believe that the entire HS2 project is environmentally damaging, financially unsound, and irrelevant to the public transport needs of residents of North West Leicestershire.  However our direct involvement remains around HS2’s impact on our local built and natural environment.

December 2020 Update

The National Infrastructure Commission has published its Rail Needs Assessment for the Midlands and the North – Final Report.  This presents a series of options which will be considered by the Government.  The headline announcement was the suggestion that the Birmingham to Leeds Eastern Leg of HS2 should be put on hold.  While this initially sounded like good news for those impacted, it is not all it seems.

Part of the NIC’s suggestions for more effective rail links is a new rail line between Birmingham and Nottingham (well as always not actually to either city centre).  They do not specify a route but it seems likely that it will follow the existing proposed HS2 route at least to past Ashby.  This gives us all the existing environmental damage, still no benefits in terms of increased connectivity (our nearest rail route to Birmingham or Nottingham remains at Tamworth on the direct city to city route), and takes away the justification that our pain delivers benefits to those travelling further up (or down) the line.

Continuing the blinkered approach to public transport provision this report only considers rail links.  If an additional route between Birmingham and Nottingham is considered necessary, or to provide additional benefits, why not consider spending the money on fast bus / coach links between Midlands cities which are already well connected by motorways?  These would allow for more stops at junctions (which could be served by shuttle community transport), they could run on environmentally friendly fuel (hydrogen or electricity), and over time could be improved via road upgrades to provide dedicated lanes increasing speed and reliability, while also discouraging car travel.

October 2020 Update

Earlier in the year there was a consultation on various route design changes.  None of them directly impacted on Appleby – although there were ones relating to Ashby and Tamworth.  A report of the consultation responses has just been published.  It can be downloaded here.  The only decisions made have been in relation to the Western leg (to Manchester).  Those of us on the Eastern leg have received a holding letter saying that work on this leg is being paused until an integrated rail study has been completed.  There has been no deadline given for this but it is expected by the end of 2020 / early 2021.  This means that the hybrid bill (effectively the planning permission for HS2) won’t happen until Autumn 2021.  This is where local groups and parish councillors can make representations over some of the detailed issues that remain unresolved.  LCC are currently hosting a series of meetings to help groups prepare their cases (without knowing what HS2’s current thinking is!).  If anyone wants more information or is interested in getting involved please get in touch.


HS2 has two legs north of Birmingham – one heading to Manchester and the other to Leeds.  The line divides south of Tamworth.  The eastern leg was expected to either follow the A38 to Derby or alternatively the M42 to the M1.  The Government’s choice of the latter route took the proposed railway line to the Appleby side of the M42.

The line will pass right through North West Leicestershire without a station between Birmingham and the East Midlands Hub (a new station between Derby and Nottingham).  As such NWL will remain without a mainline railway station. For this, and other, reasons most local public opinion has been hostile to the project as a whole.

During the original consultation – which ran to the end of January 2014 – Appleby Environment explained the proposed route and its implications for Appleby Magna and Parva, encouraged residents to attend HS2’s local events, learn more about opposition to the scheme via Stop HS2 and other national campaigns, and to respond to the consultation.  Some local people lobbied for alternative routes.  Appleby Environment has focused on the arguments against HS2 as a whole and the specific problems of the proposed route as it affects our area.  We have not promoted an alternative route which would have a negative impact on others.

The main campaign was around a proposed ‘route refinement’, announced in late 2016, in which the route diverged from that originally consulted on to run on the eastern sides of Appleby and Measham before rejoining the original route close to Packington.  Following a strong campaign and further consultation, summarised below, this proposal was withdrawn in July 2017. The outcome was a slightly modified version of the original route.

This has been further worked up, via a Working Draft Environmental Statement, to provide more details of road and footpath changes and the way the landscape would be reshaped.  This has been subject to further consultation which has closed and reported on, but HS2 have not announced how they will respond to the concerns expressed.  This is summarised under current issues below.

Additionally there is another attempt to move the route – this time to the other side of the M42.  AE has not been involved this (on either side) but if it was pursued it would have implications for Appleby, so it is also described under current issues.

Current Issues

An overview of the current route past Appleby is shown in this map.  It is taken from the Working Draft Environmental Statement which provided information on proposed road and footpath changes and landscape impacts.

Consultation closed on these proposals at the end of 2018.  Since then HS2 has published a summary of the consultation responses as assessed by Ipsos MORI.  The full report is available from the HS2 website.  We have extracted the section relating to our area.  You can download this here.

This is just a summary of responses.  It does not assess their strength or suggest whether, or how, HS2 should respond.  However it is intended to inform future plans.  We are pleased to see that opposition to the proposal to demolish Appleby’s listed Old Rectory (one of our major concerns) is specifically highlighted in this report.  Our other major concerns were the proposed closure of Dingle Lane (the bridleway between Appleby  Parva and No Man’s Heath), the form of landscaping between Appleby Parva and the line, and the disruption likely to be caused during construction.  Our full submission is available here Appleby Environment submission HS2 DES.

We also worked with Appleby Magna Parish Council on their consultation exercise and submission, as well as more widely with North West Leicestershire District Council.  We remain concerned that no visual images of bridges or embankment designs were available as part of this consultation.

The proposed resolution of these issues should appear in the Environmental Statement that will accompany the Hybrid Bill to parliament.  This is expected to be submitted in 2020.

Resources relating to the most recent proposals (extracted from HS2’s draft environmental statement)
Two maps relating to the land they say they need for construction (not all of which will be permanently lost to HS2)
Appleby Parva site take for construction AP (HS2 DES 2018)
Appleby Magna (incl. J11) site take for construction AM (HES DES 2018)
Two maps showing the landscaping and planting they intend to leave
Appleby Parva Landscaping and planting AP (HS2 DES 2018)
Appleby Magna Landscaping and planting AM (HS2 DES 2018)
Visual impact assessment map for AM & AP Visual impact assessment (HS2 DES 2018)
Noise impact assessment map Noise impact assessment (HS2 DES 2018)

Resources relating to this consultation exercise
Appleby Environment submission HS2 DES
Press release old rectory
Concerns about the proposed demolition of the Old Rectory as covered by the Ashby Times, 26/10/2018
Parish Council Questionnaire relating to the proposed Road and Footpath changes
Parish Council submission to HS2 DES

Route 4 – Local Proposal for an alternative route past Measham

Another route has been proposed – locally known as ‘Route 4’ which would see HS2 go across the M42 after junction 11 and go the Oakthorpe side of the A42 past Measham before returning to the existing route. (For nerds Route 1 was the original proposal, Route 2 was the Measham re-route, Route 3 is the current proposal).

This was being considered in 2018 by the Department of Transport who sought the view of the Measham and Oakthorpe parish councils (but not Appleby!)  We have heard nothing since then from HS2.  However they did report to a Parish Council meeting that should the D of T decide they were  in favour of this route, HS2 would need to work up the details and there would then be another round of public consultation over whether it should be adopted.  Without seeing the details it is difficult to assess the impact on Appleby but it would be likely to take the line marginally away from the village.

Campaign against the Measham Re-route (2016-17)

On 15th November 2016 the Government announced a new route for the leg of HS2 running past Appleby and Measham.  This seemed to be the result of pressure from business interests close to the line where it passed Measham, supported by NWL MP Andrew Bridgen, rather than as a result of wider public concerns identified in the initial consultation.

We were faced with a diversion around Measham with knock on effects for Appleby and other villages.  Rather than following the M42 the new proposed route was to go the other side of Appleby (across Snarestone Rd close to Jubilee Farm and behind the School).  This would have taken the line closer to Appleby Magna than the previous route, and much closer to the historic parts of the village including the Sir John Moore school.  The village would have been sandwiched between the motorway one side and the rail line the other. A summary is shown below:


Because it was substantially different to the original route it triggered a new consultation round.  The consultation document said: ‘The secretary of state is minded to move the route so that it runs to the east of Measham, away from the M42’.  The public were asked whether they supported this proposal or not.  Interestingly, this route had been considered, and rejected, by those professionals designing the route that was originally consulted on.

The new route had implications for 3 other local villages.  The route diverged from the original one in Austrey and returned to it at Packington.  In both cases the change brought the line closer to the villages and affected facilities.  For Appleby and Measham the changes were more radical, moving the route to the other side of these villages and trapping them between the motorway and railway.  This directly affected a different set of residents from the original proposal, but also impacted on various facilities including schools in both Measham and Appleby, the historic environment in Appleby and the cemetery in Measham.

For this reason  a public meeting was organised in Measham to see whether there was interest in a joint campaign against this proposed re-route.  Over 350 local residents turned out on 13th December. After an introductory presentation and a discussion there was enthusiasm to work together.  An organisation called MAPA (Measham, Appleby, Packington and Austrey) HS2 Action was formed in early January.  The group had the support of all 4 parish councils as well as local activists.  The consultation was due to close on the 9th March 2017 so there was very little time to get organised.

The group formed an organising committee with representatives from all four villages.  It established a website, Facebook page, membership list and made sure everyone knew about public meetings and events including an HS2 ‘information event’ and an Appleby Magna Parish Council Open Public Meeting, both in January.  In the run up to the consultation deadline we ran workshops to help people make their submissions and produced detailed fact sheets on the main issues.  We also lobbied the District and County councils to oppose the re-route themselves.

At the same time we needed to research the case and make a submission to the consultation on behalf of the group.  It was great to have all the communities involved.  All members were opposed to the re-route and we were able to draw on local knowledge as well as develop new arguments – particularly in relation the business and employment impact of the new route.  Nevertheless there were serious disagreements.  Most notably about whether to propose a different route.  For many there was an appeal in proposing a completely different route which might take the railway further away from all our communities.  Others were unhappy about suggesting another route given our experience of having other people decide that sending the route past us was a good one without asking our opinion!  It was agreed that the group should stick to the consultation question asked – did we support the proposed re-route – to which we could all give a resounding NO.  It was then up to HS2 to come up with an alternative.  A submission was made on this basis which can be downloaded MapaHS2action-route-submission.  Individual parish councils made their own specific submissions, in addition – some of which proposed alternative routes.

The was no indication of when the Government would respond to the consultation and we were completely taken by surprise by the announcement on 17th July 2017 that they were withdrawing the proposed ‘Measham re-route’ and returning to a slightly amended version of the previous route close to the M42 / A42.  The map (with height / depth of the line relative to ground level) can be downloaded here.

Pleasure about our success in defeating this damaging change of route was tempered by the knowledge that HS2 would still go ahead and that the proposed route was damaging to many local residents.  Given how close it has ended up being to the original route, it meant that many who had initially thought they were going to be affected and who had then thought they would be saved by the re-route, found themselves again in the firing line.

Mapa met again as a committee and as a meeting open to all members.  It was felt that given the differences between the villages, and the impact of HS2 on them, it would not be possible to continue to campaign collectively.  For this reason Mapa was disbanded and the small amount of remaining funds were donated to the  Stop HS2 organisation.  Ongoing campaigns in relation to the detailed design and community compensation have reverted to individual parish councils and local action groups.

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