There needs to be greater attention to avoiding and mitigating environmental and community damage, including minimising impacts on the users, heritage and restoration of the inland waterways.
The decision to scrap much of the Eastern Leg of HS2 Phase 2B is good news for the waterways along that route, however, we continue to be critical of the intention to press ahead with the Western Leg of HS2 2b.
Our concerns raised in the previous consultations remain relevant but largely unanswered. They include some fundamental criticisms of the inadequate recognition of noise impacts on waterways, subsidence risks on the western leg route, and uncertainty for waterway restoration projects at Measham and Staveley.
IWA’s major concerns are:
- Landscape, noise and heritage impacts on the Trent & Mersey Canal in the Dane valley north of Middlewich
- Noise and visual impacts on the Middlewich Branch of the Shropshire Union Canal
- Threats, uncertainty and delay to the restoration of the Ashby Canal at Measham
- Threats, uncertainty and blight to the restoration of the Chesterfield Canal at Staveley and Norwood
In particular, there has been a fundamental failure to acknowledge that waterway users are not just ‘transient’ but in many locations people live on boats for varying periods of time, and those places should be provided with noise mitigation to at least the same standards as would automatically apply to residential buildings at that location.
Unlike buildings, however, boats cannot easily be retrofitted with double glazing, and their mobility and the outdoor lifestyle of boaters means that they are more dependent on external controls including noise fencing on viaducts and bridges, earth bunding and screen planting.
IWA contends that wherever boats are permanently moored, or permitted to moor temporarily overnight or for a few days or months, they are likely to be occupied residentially and those locations should be protected by noise mitigation to residential standards.
Whilst the design of bridges and viaducts is important, the minor additional visual impact of noise fencing should not be used as an excuse to deny the major audible benefits that it can provide. To static boat residents or waterway users encountering HS2 at walking pace it will in the long term be the operational noise that most impacts and disrupts their lifestyle and activities.