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Leigh MP stands by promise in HS2 consultation response
6:10am Friday 7th February 2014 in News
MAXIMUM disruption for minimal benefit is all the Government's HS2 plans will bring to the area, according to Leigh MP Andy Burnham.
In Mr Burnham's response to the HS2 consultation, which concluded on Friday, he argues that the planned depot in Golborne would result in his consituency being among the most disrupted of any in the country.
He said: "While I can see a case for HS2 overall, I am unable to support the Government's specific proposals as they stand for my constituency. I find it hard to understand why HS2's preferred location is in the middle of an area designated by Wigan Council as its 'green heart'.
"It seems clear to me that HS2 has prioritised its other three criteria relating to strategic positioning and operational convenience over and above its own stated aim to minimise the impact on the environment and heritage.
"I find it disappointing that precise detail on the scale and nature of the depot has only emerged in the later stages of this consultation.
"I am concerned that many local people are therefore not fully aware of its size and potential impact.
“The natural landscape of the Leigh and Wigan area is slowly recovering after centuries of coal mining and heavy industrialisation. What green areas we have are therefore precious to us and need to be respected.
“This large infrastructure project would also have a major impact on local residents in terms of noise and light pollution, traffic movements and disruption to local roads.
“I find it surprising that the need to consider impact on residential areas was not one of the criteria set out by HS2. A large housing estate is less than half a mile from the proposed site across open fields.
“It is clear that the facility would have a major impact on these residents.
“While I can appreciate the value of the proposed new jobs, that needs to be balanced against the intrusion and disruption that the depot would bring.
Now Mr Burnham is calling on the Government to run a separate public consultation on both the location and the nature of the depot facility.
"The route and nature of construction will blight properties not able to access the statutory compensation scheme.
"Alternatives including tunnelling should be considered which would allow for minimum disturbance to residents and the retention of a vital community resource in Lowton Civic Hall playing fields.
“The area surrounding the depot should be linked with wildlife corridors to allow the continued safe transit of mammals and birds across the route from the SSSI to surrounding water courses and rural space,” he added.
Mr Burnham concluded that he acknowledged the need for infrastructure but not at the expense of local communities.
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