MONEY-SPINNING plans for a revolutionary high speed railway line which will pass through parts of Ashfield have provoked a mixed reaction from the area’s business leaders, politicians and residents.
On Monday, the Department of Transport unveiled plans for the second part of its ultra rapid HS2 railway line which will take passengers from Nottingham to London in just 51 minutes.
A year ago, ministers revealed that the first stage of the line would run from London to Birmingham, while the second phase would include an eastern route to the East Midlands, South Yorkshire and Leeds and a western route to Manchester.
People will be able to catch the train at a brand new station which is being built at Toton near Nottingham - but because the line follows the M1 corridor, it is expected to pass through parts of Ashfield including Selston and Annesley.
Annesley Woodhouse resident Peter Olko, who is chairman of ACCESS (Annesley Community Committed to Ensuring Sustainable Settlements), said that it was too early to comment on whether the plans were a good idea.
He said: “It needs very careful scrutiny of the plans. It is going to go close to some SSSIs (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and there are sections which may have a noise impact on residents.”
Meanwhile, Ashfield district councillor Don Davis, whose Woodhouse ward includes Annesley, says that he was pleased to see improvements to infrastructure, but added that he was worried about what impact the line would have on recently-approved plans to create a country park at the former Bentinck tip site.
He said: “I am concerned about some of the route. It goes straight through Bentinck.”
Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero said that while she welcomed the possibility of new jobs, she had concerns about the line being built in areas of green belt.
She said: “While I very much welcome the news that this project is expected to create thousands of much needed jobs in the region I also want to protect our green belt land.
“I have now written to the Secretary of State for Transport to get detailed and exact route plans and to ask him what impact he expects this to have on my constituency, both environmentally and economically.
“I will keep residents informed of all of the information as soon as I get it.”
The line will pass through MP Mark Spencer’s Sherwood constituency, which includes Hucknall, and yesterday he welcomed the plans because of the employment benefits it would bring.
He said: “I think it’s close enough to us to be of benefit, but far enough away not to blight our lives.
“At the end of the day it’s all about jobs. If you have a job which you’re happy with, your outlook on life changes dramatically.”
He also said that he welcomed feedback from residents who had concerns about the proximity of the line to their houses.
George Cowcher, Chief Executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This announcement is extremely welcome news for Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire and is something which the chamber has been lobbying on for a number of years.
“Around 55 per cent of local firms are firmly behind bringing High Speed Rail to the East Midlands, which has the potential to unlock economic benefits of as much as £3.8billion for the region.
“This is not just about faster train times between Derby, Nottingham and London – it’s also about connecting the East Midlands to a first-class UK and Europe-wide rail network and the opportunities that brings to local firms.
“Poor transport infrastructure has held back the UK’s ability to take full advantage of opportunities to grow its businesses.”
High speed rail will bring all the regions of Britain closer together and create the capacity our businesses need to invest with confidence, expand and compete on a global scale.”