Thursday, November 17, 2016

News: New reports show environmental impact of HS2 in Rotherham

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New sustainability statements published as the Government backs its preferred route for the HS2 project in the North warn of the visual and noise impacts on Rotherham communities.

The use of high embankments and viaducts as trains between London and Leeds travel at over 223 mph, are set to cause issues for areas such as Aston, Brampton-en-le–Morthen and Thurcroft.

The Government has said that, in line with the Sir David Higgins route proposals, it proposes that "HS2 should serve Sheffield with a connection to the existing station with the main route be moved further east." This would involved a spur off the main HS2 route which would then go East of Rotherham straight to Leeds, replacing initial proposals for a through route stopping at Meadowhall. Consultation is taking place before a final decision is made next year.

The previous preferred route to Meadowhall was due to enter Rotherham at Killamarsh following the line of the disused Chesterfield Canal. Passing Rother Valley Country Park, a viaduct would have taken the line across Sheffield Road at Fence and the River Rother flood plain. It would have seriously affected the £100m Waverley development site and developments either side of the Parkway before passing through Tinsley to Meadowhall. Noise impacts were identified in areas such as Swallownest, Treeton, Catcliffe and Thorpe Hesley.

The 2016 route of the HS2 line East of Rotherham would enter the borough at Woodhall Services as it follows the line of the M1. It would then switch to follow the route of the M18 motorway before heading out of the borough on a curve through the Dearne Valley. In Rotherham, it would affect Wales, Aston, Ulley, Brampton-en-le–Morthen, Thurcroft, Bramley, Ravenfield and Hooton Roberts.

All of this route section has a design speed of 360km/h (223 mph) to allow the route to follow close to the M1 and M18 motorway corridors.

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The report, undertaken by consultants Temple-RSK for HS2 Ltd includes a section on noise stating that 4,500 dwellings on the Eastern Leg from Birmingham to Leeds will experience a noticeable noise increase.

With additional indicative mitigation, the main residential areas where residual noise impacts are currently predicted include Aston, Brampton-en-le–Morthen and Thurcroft in Rotherham.

In terms of landscape and visual impact, the report adds that as the route diverges from the M1 near Aston it will fragment "attractive rolling countryside, with three high viaducts in particular cutting across the topography and causing loss of distinctive valley side woodland. The landscape character and designed landscape features around Aston would be affected as would the views of some of its residents."

A 430m long, 27m high viaduct is proposed over a tributary of Pigeon Brook and the A57 Aston bypass. The A57 would be realigned to pass under the viaduct as would the B6067 (Worksop Road).

The report goes on to say that "the route passes over the M1/M18 junction on a series of long, high embankments and viaducts. Residents on the western edge of Thurcroft would experience visual impacts where the viaduct intrudes into currently open views beyond the motorway."

At the junction, the route would continue along a 360m viaduct over the M1 and Wood Lane / Brampton Lane, with two more viaducts of 360m and 580m long to take the route over the slip roads.

The report makes specific mentions to "major impacts on woodland and designed landscape features" near Aston, where high viaducts would also give rise to visual intrusion. It adds that there would be visual impacts on some residents of Thurcroft, where the viaduct would intrude into the currently open westward views.

At Bramley, the report states that: "passing east of Rotherham, the route's close alignment with the M18 would limit impacts." Here the route would continue to run on the west side of the M18. It would run in cutting up to 11m deep and then embankment up to 7m high before entering a cutting to pass underneath Sandy Lane. Between Sandy Lane and the A631 (Bawtry Road) retaining walls would be constructed to minimise the width of the cutting for the high speed railway.

Temple-RSK / HS2 Ltd website

Images: HS2 Ltd


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