Fight continues against high speed rail link

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Almost 200 people were at a public meeting called in opposition to the controversial HS2 rail link.

Council leader Peter Box was among speakers at a packed community centre in Altofts on Monday.

An artist's impression of a HS2 train crossing a canal.

An artist's impression of a HS2 train crossing a canal.

Opponents to HS2 say the £55m scheme is a waste of money which would carve up the district’s towns, village and countryside.

Paul Dainton, who organised the meeting at The Brig, on St Mary’s Road, said: “It’s going to go through our green areas with the destruction of woods, water ponds, wildlife areas.

“It will lead to the loss of 22 public footpaths in our wildlife spaces. It’s going to be more than the width of a football field.

“People are not interested about what the HS2 route should be, they simply don’t want it, full stop.”

Campaigner Paul Dainton.

Campaigner Paul Dainton.

“The disturbance while it is being built will be horrendous.”

Mr Dainton said there were concerns about the rail line running across land with subsistence caused by disused mines.

People were also worried about losing thousands of pounds off the value of their houses.

Mr Dainton added: “The compensation offered is appalling considering what will happen to house prices.”

Mr Dainton urged people to take part in a public consultation on HS2.

Existing Wakefield-London trains could also be reduced if new HS2 trains from Leeds to the capital are introduced under HS2, it is also feared.

HS2 campaigner Robert Burgess, of Altofs, said: “More than 170 people turned out on a cold winter night to attend the public meeting on Monday night.

“These people showed their support, accepting that we could not just lay down and let this government push on with what most people from all sectors have named ‘a great white elephant’.”

On Wednesday, news that a huge car park and railway station could also be built as part of the HS2 project sparked a new backlash.

Users of the high-speed rail link would leave their cars at the 1,700 park and ride and board trains to join HS2 at Sheffield or Leeds.

Hemsworth and Fitzwilliam are on a shortlist of potential sites.

Jon Trickett, the Hemsworth MP, accused the Department of Transport of keeping the plans secret.

He said: “These plans have been kept secret intentionally. We were meant to be kept informed by the Department for Transport, but they’ve had no contact with me or my office.

“Equally importantly we have no idea how the narrow roads and lanes around either Fitzwilliam or Hemsworth would cope with possibly thousands of car movements per day.”