Derbyshire resident vows to stand in front of bulldozers to stop her home being demolished to make way for HS2 train line

An artist's impression of the HS2 line
An artist's impression of the HS2 line

A Derbyshire resident has said she will defy the bulldozers to stop her home being demolished to make way for the controversial high speed rail line.

And councillor Carol Hart, leader of Erewash Borough Council, has called on the Government to scrap plans to bring the track through her constituency.

She was attending a public meeting in Long Eaton, hosted at the Sea Cadets’ Long Eaton branch by campaign group Stop HS2 Erewash, which saw over 40 residents quiz local councillors about the multi-billion pound rail project.

Speaking afterwards, she said: “To pull out now would be the best option, of course. But if it is to continue, then we will do everything we can to mitigate against any negative impacts.”

Her comments came after she took part in a debate on the multi-billion pound project.

During the exchanges, she said: “We are not big enough to stop this, so we are working hard to protect and mitigate against it to get the best for the people of Erewash, and particularly Long Eaton.

“It is looking as if it is still going to go ahead, but we have a small but strong team of staff who will continue to fight for the best for residents in all corners.”

In response, spokesperson for Stop HS2 Erewash, Brent Poland, said: “That is not good enough from out democratically elected officials, it is defeatist. This is why we not called move HS2, we are stop HS2.”

Deputy leader at the borough council, Cllr Wayne Major, who is also a county councillor, said: “Quite a lot of this is not within our gift and we accept that it will have an horrific impact on the people who have houses in the affected area, and on natural and rural areas in my ward – Sandiacre.

“We recognise what you are feeling and we are not defeatist.”

Cllr Hart was asked why there had not been a formal consultation across the borough to vote on the authority’s stance towards HS2.

She said that a consultation would have to be across the whole borough, not just in Long Eaton, and that “there are plenty of people who are for it”.

After the meeting, she said that any consultation would be costly, and a further drain on the council’s limited resources.

She said that the borough council is due to have a formal debate on the authority’s response to the latest environmental impact assessment of the route through Long Eaton on Thursday, December 13.

Mr Poland said that he intends to “bury HS2 in paperwork” with mass submissions to the upcoming batch of consultation on Phase 2b of the train route – which includes the East Midlands. 

HS2 is hosting an information event at West Park Leisure Centre in Long Eaton on Friday, December 7, 2-8pm. The deadline for responses is Friday, December 21.

Speaking at last night’s meeting, Long Eaton resident Tracy Wren, who lives in Meadow Lane, said her house was among the 183 HS2 wants to demolish for the new train line. 

She said: “We bought our house five years ago, and we were told at the time that HS2 was going to be coming through eventually, but we didn’t really mind – we were told it would be 40 metres from our house.

“But then we found out two years ago that the route had been altered and that our house would now be one of the ones to be demolished.

“We had a letter in the post but we really only found out at a meeting arranged by Stop HS2 Erewash at West Park Leisure Centre.

“We had just had all our renovations done to the house. It is our home, and we have spent £80,000 doing it up. We can’t afford to move somewhere else and don’t want to.

“We would have lived under the viaduct if we had to, but that won’t happen now, and I won’t be moving.

“I’m a bit of a rebel, I won’t be moved and they’ll have to compulsory purchase the house.”

Mrs Wren confirmed that she would be willing to stand in front of bulldozers to prevent her home being demolished.

“They know where I stand,” she said.

She says that the middle of the incoming train tracks would be just five metres from her house.

At Erewash Borough Council’s last full council meeting, it was stated that Long Eaton could be effectively “severed” when HS2 arrives, due to the amount of extra train traffic which would be channelled by Network Rail onto an existing low-level line.

This would lead to the two level-crossings in Main Street and Station Road being closed for much of the day.

In response to this, Stop HS2 Erewash’s Mr Poland said: “It would be a social and economic disaster for Long Eaton to ‘cut the town in two’.”

He claims that Hypnos Beds – based in an industrial estate off Meadow Lane, between the two existing train lines – has already relocated out of Long Eaton, as a result of HS2, and that more would follow.

Mr Poland continued: “As regards the people, it will make their daily commute and access to their homes more difficult.

“For HS2 it may make their job easier as there will be less businesses and residents in their way and I’m sure developers will jump at the chance at the newly vacated land.

“Considering how many of the residents have thus far being treated this may not be too far from the truth.”

Cllr Michael Powell, lead member for regeneration and planning at the borough council, used to work in the rail industry. He said he had been heavily lobbying against the potential closing of the two level crossings.

The main driver behind the option to build a viaduct for HS2 through Long Eaton, across Station Road, was to avoid closing the crossings and cutting the town in two.

Cllr Powell said this could still be avoided if train traffic is redirected onto the current high-level line, past Tesco Extra.

However, Cllr Powell said that trains coming from Derby cannot access this route at the moment, so a missing link would have to be filled in. He said this would be worth it to avoid closing off the town.

Cllr Powell said: “We don’t know where the money would come from, or the costs, but that is for HS2 to work out, we cannot tolerate a system which closes down the crossings”.

He added: “My life has been railways, and I feel that I can challenge HS2. I feel sorry for the many people who will be affected by it, and we must now work for the best for Long Eaton.”

HS2 aims to reduce journey times between England’s cities, such as Birmingham, London and Manchester – including the East Midlands Hub at Toton.

HS2 Ltd says that at peak, the project will employ 30,000 people. Campaigners say these will be temporary and that thousands will be lost as a result of the route.

It had been costed at around £56 billion, as of October 2016, but this has also been contested by campaign groups.

Stop HS2 Erewash informed last night’s meeting that the costs could make the project the most expensive in human history, over and above the $150 billion (roughly £97 billion) international space station, valued in 2010.

Phase 1 of the scheme, from London to Birmingham is currently costed at £56 billion alone.

Expert rail surveyor Michael Byng, reported that the overall cost of Phase 1, Phase 2a and Phase 2b could be £165 billion, with the price rising to £330 billion with inflation.

It is further forecast to cost £43 billion to provide infrastructure for the route and £7 billion for the trains themselves.

Overall, Mr Byng says this could cost each taxpayer £12,000.

Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service