Route between Middlewich and Pickmere


2. Do you support the proposal to change the alignment and raise the route through the Cheshire salt plains? Please indicate whether or not you support the proposal together with your reasons.

Your response:

Pickmere Parish Council has considered the Route Refinement modifications on several occasions during the consultation period and has sought to involve the community of Pickmere in reaching a conclusion on the proposals.
The Parish Council remains opposed to the principle of HS2 Phase 2b. The Council considers that the business case supporting the proposal is insufficient to justify the huge financial investment it would involve, especially taken against the overwhelming and catastrophic impact the proposal will have on the environment of Cheshire, and on the daily life of the residents of Pickmere. The Council has the following comments on the proposed changes to the route between Middlewich and Pickmere, and in particular that part of the route which runs through Pickmere Parish.
The Route Refinement proposal is considered completely unacceptable. Whilst accepting that the route of the line has been moved slightly further from the main built-up area of Pickmere, the line has been raised vertically and is now proposed on embankments of varying height. This increased elevation, taken together with the height of trackside gantries and other plant, and the form of the engineering structures will:
• Have a considerable and detrimental impact on the openness of the Green Belt within which the route runs. The principle of the openness of the Green Belt is a key concept in town planning terms and is keenly safeguarded by all local planning authorities and by the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The creation of substantial lengths of embankment and viaducts will interrupt views across open countryside resulting in a substantial degradation of its character and openness.
• Provide a hard barrier in the landscape, severing views, local communities and landholdings, and resulting in environmental and economic distress to the Parish’s residents and landowners.
• Result in even worse noise and vibration impacts on residents and on the local environment than a line constructed at grade, resulting both from operation of the route and also its construction. Whilst mitigation measures may be vaguely promised in relation to the operation of the line, it is hard to conceive how effective mitigation of noise impacts can be achieved without exacerbating the visual impacts of the scheme as referred to above.
• Result in a substantially increased land take, required to form the embankments proposed, to the detriment of the local environment and the working farms and other enterprises affected.
• Result in substantial disturbance to land drainage systems, in an area (and in particular in the floodplain areas) where drainage is not good at present.
• Require huge amounts of fill material to be imported to the Parish, presumably by road, causing disruption and substantial loss of amenity to the residents of the parish in their daily lives, using local roads. In this context, the Parish Council insists that no construction access is taken through Pickmere Village and on Pickmere Lane, Pickmere.
• Result in considerable light pollution in the local landscape, both during construction operations, which will no doubt require months if not years, and also during operation of the proposed route, for instance when overnight maintenance to the track is required.
Pickmere Parish Council has sought not to focus its comments on aspects which affect other nearby communities, but nevertheless believes that the proposal in its current form will have an unacceptable impact on the life of its residents and the peaceful and rural character of the Parish and surrounding areas. Notwithstanding its opposition to the principle of HS2 Phase 2b, the Parish Council therefore objects to the Route Refinement proposal in its current form.