High Speed Rail
The Government is committed to developing a new High Speed Rail link between London and the West Midlands and beyond. Detailed plans have already been agreed for some of the route and Civic Voice is campaigning to give local communities more influence over what happens.
The Government’s proposals are for an entirely new rail line and this will have a major impact on the areas through which it passes. No detailed study of the overall impact on undesignated townscape, landscape, heritage, wildlife, tranquillity, valued buildings and the rights of way network has yet been undertaken. We believe more can be done to lessen the impact of the scheme and to increase local benefits through improve public access and management of the natural and historic environment. A new High Speed Railway would bring undoubted benefits but there are also worries it will not be integrated with other investment needed in the railway network.
The proposals will take many years to be brought to fruition and will be subject to significant funding and political challenges. Civic Voice recognises the benefits that can be provided by investment in better rail services and encourages an approach to future development which engages communities much more effectively and addresses local impacts and design issues at the earliest stages of assessment. Wherever major investment takes place we believe it should take a positive approach to providing significant environmental and other public benefits along the route and avoid station locations which will encourage greenfield development.
Civic Voice has brought interested civic societies and other local groups together to discuss the proposals and develop our approach. We have also shared the experience of HS1 through Kent with local volunteers and HS2’s staff. We work with other national voluntary groups through the Right Lines Charter which sets out some principles to guide investment in high speed rail.
It is vital that local communities have an effective say when major infrastructure projects are put forward. It can be difficult to make a difference locally and Civic Voice is keen to work with civic societies and other local groups to influence the proposals and work together so our united voice is heard in the debate to come. We are campaigning vigorously for improved public engagement over the choices north of Birmingham.
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