CAMPAIGNERS fighting plans for a high speed railway line through Stafford say the battle is not yet lost despite MPs voting in favour of phase one.
Several members from Marston Against HS2 travelled to London on Monday for a rally, organised to coincide with second reading of the Hybrid Bill in the Commons.
Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy had signed an amendment put forward by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant, calling for the bill not to be given a second reading because the planned route, which passes through Stafford Borough, slices through the countryside.
But the amendment was voted down and 452 voted in favour of the bill, with only 41 against leaving campaigners disappointed as it means the HS2 scheme between London and Birmingham has moved a step closer.
But Bob Gasch, chairman of Marston Against HS2, said: “It is not the end, the battle still continues. There will have to be another reading of the bill, which probably won’t be until after the next general election now but a lot could happen between now and then.
“We are still fighting and we have the support of local politicians Jeremy Lefroy and Bill Cash.”
Meanwhile, a report published by the Wildlife Trusts has urged the Government to adopt a greener approach to HS2 and shows how large-scale nature restoration along the proposed high-speed rail network could help heal blighted communities and damaged countryside.
The report, called HS2: A vision for large-scale nature restoration along the Proposed Route, calls for the creation of natural areas, wild havens, green bridges and cycle routes along the corridor of the HS2 route has been proposed by Wildlife Trusts along both Phase 1 and 2, including Staffordshire Wildlife Trust.
Kate Dewey, planning and conservation officer at Staffordshire Wildlife Trust said: “Currently, people and nature stand to lose if HS2 goes ahead which is why our opposition to the proposed route for HS2 remains. Like other affected groups we will be petitioning against it. The Government needs to act now to set out an ambitious plan for restoring nature along the length of the route.
“Our vision would see new, interlinked wild places established along the route that people can walk, cycle and enjoy, whilst ultimately providing a net gain for wildlife. HS2 would be England’s biggest infrastructure project in modern times so, if it goes ahead, we think it should be implemted alongside England’s biggest nature restoration project.”
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust previously launched a public appeal to raise £17,500 to cover the costs it will incur standing up for wildlife against HS2 through extra staff time, legal fees and extra habitat surveys.