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HS2 route ‘would destroy historical sites’ in Wakefield say campaigners

Paul Dainton(pictured left) and Brian Kitchin pictured near Altofts henge, have worked for more than 30 years to maintain the historic Newland Hall estate, which was a medieval priory of the Knights Hospitalers. Now the HS2 railway line is threatening to run right through the site, as well as Altofts henge, Stanley aqueduct and countryside at Walton and Wintersett. He is leading a campaign against the new rail network

Paul Dainton(pictured left) and Brian Kitchin pictured near Altofts henge, have worked for more than 30 years to maintain the historic Newland Hall estate, which was a medieval priory of the Knights Hospitalers. Now the HS2 railway line is threatening to run right through the site, as well as Altofts henge, Stanley aqueduct and countryside at Walton and Wintersett. He is leading a campaign against the new rail network

A high speed railway line could destroy prehistoric heritage sites, campaigners have warned.

Environmental campaigner Paul Dainton has battled plans to turn the former Newland Hall site, in Altofts, into a waste tip for about 30 years.

And he said the HS2 route, announced last week, would cut right through the site, which was once a medieval priory used by the Knights Hospitallers, a Christian military order.

He said the prehistoric Altofts henge site was also at risk.

Mr Dainton, of Residents Against Toxic Scheme (RATS), said: “We’ve put years of effort and thousands of pounds into protecting this area, and now out of nowhere we’ve got a railway line coming through that will be horrific for the landscape and destroy greenbelt land. It’s also one of the most walked areas in Wakefield, and the nearby wetlands are a haven for wildlife.

“The henge could be anything from a grave mound to a Roman fortification. The fact the line would cut right through the area is just unbelievable.

“I’ve literally devoted most of my life to this area, so it’s a devastating proposal.”

The £33bn HS2 would be able to get people from Leeds to London in 80 minutes at speeds of up to 250mph. The route is expected to be open by 2033.

Mr Dainton said local farmers, estate agents and people who lived in the area, particularly by Garforth Drive and Altofts Lodge Lane, were also concerned about the impact of the plan.

He said: “Everybody knows that we need better trains on the current network, and they would be much better spending the money on that.

“The train will not even stop in Wakefield even though there’s a large industrial estate here. People here just feel like they are being dumped on with absolutely no benefit to them.”

An HS2 Ltd spokesman said: “Wherever practicable the proposed routes for HS2 have been designed to minimise potential impacts on important environmental features such as protected habitats, wildlife, historic sites, waterways and rivers.”

A consultation on the plans will open later this year.

 

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