Shropshire Star

Delay to HS2 welcomed by village facing 700 lorries a day

A small village will welcome any delay to HS2 that will postpone the prospect of having 700 lorries travelling on its road each day, councillors have said.

Residents of Woore campaigning against HS2 in 2017

The Government has said construction of the Birmingham to Crewe leg of HS2 will be delayed by two years as part of cost-saving measures.

It is understood the Government wants to cut costs due to the high rate of inflation.

Councillors representing the village of Woore on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border have said any delay to HS2 is welcome.

Sections of HS2 are set to be delayed

The village, near Market Drayton, sits on a designated route for construction traffic for Phase 2a of the major rail project, covering the line between the Birmingham and Crewe.

Councillor Roy Aldcroft, who represents Market Drayton East on Shropshire Council, said the area's roads faced seven years of disruption.

He said: "When you are expecting 700 lorries a day, 350 lorries from Stone in Staffordshire and then returning again, that has involved quite a considerable amount of planning for the roads, air quality monitoring and mitigating the effects of that volume of traffic on an already busy stretch of road.

"The news of the delay is welcome, especially the fact that somebody has finally woken up and is looking at the viability of the line between Birmingham and Crewe."

Woore has been designated a construction route for HS2

Temporary highway modifications are currently being undertaken along the A525 in Woore to ready the roads for the impending construction work, but the Conservative councillor hopes HS2 can now be convinced to move the route elsewhere.

"I'm hoping this delay will give HS2 the opportunity to look to organise a different route and will give us time to lobby HS2 to get them to move the traffic," he said.

Michael Cowey, chairman of Woore Parish Council, said villagers had been campaigning since 2015 to halt the HS2 plans, and he also welcomed the news of the delay, but he remained sceptical.

He said: "Anything that will delay this will be welcomed but it is a delay and they have not said they are stopping. We have been here before with these types of announcements about delays and cancellations.

"But anything that can help the parish do further consultations, look to find alternatives for road users and alleviate the pressure has got to be a good thing.

"And hopefully it will give them time to rethink the costs because clearly with the rise in inflation it is becoming less viable."

The HS2 project has been beset by delays and cost increases before. In 2010, it was estimated that HS2 would cost around £33 billion to complete but that has since swollen to at least £71 billion.

The Department for Transport would not comment on any proposed delay to aspects of HS2. A spokesperson would only say that "spades are already in the ground on the HS2 project".