HS2 rail link through Leicestershire could cost 6,000 jobs
Plans to run a £32 billion high-speed rail route through Leicestershire could jeopardise a project that will create 6,000 jobs, it has been warned.
On Monday, Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to announce details of the route of phase two of the HS2 scheme.
The first phase will see 225mph passenger trains running between London and Birmingham, while phase two will see lines branch out in a Y-shape to both Leeds and Manchester.
Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton said he has been told the Leeds-bound section will cut through the county passing through a huge tunnel underneath East Midlands Airport.
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Coun Rushton said he understood it would re-emerge in the middle of a site earmarked for a £300 million rail distribution depot, to the north of the airport, which would employ 6,000 people, planned by developers Roxhill. He said: "This line will cut right through north west Leicestershire.
"It will enter at Appleby Magna and broadly follow the route of the M42 corridor. When it gets to Diseworth, it will disappear down a great tunnel and come back up exactly where the Roxhill development will be.
"It will wreck that very important employment opportunity."
Coun Rushton said he did not think it would be possible for both schemes to go ahead. He said: "The developers would contribute millions to improving the road infrastructure, so if it doesn't happen there will be no Kegworth bypass and none of the motorway junction improvements. The dualling of the A453 will not happen either."
Coun Rushton spoke to the Mercury yesterday ahead of a phone conversation with Secretary of State for Transport Sir Patrick McLoughlin, who briefed him on the scheme.
Coun Rushton said he feared the route would affect communities including Appleby Magna, Measham, Ashby and Lockington where there may be compulsory purchases of homes and businesses.
He said: "I doubt it will be very popular. It would make more sense to run it up the A38 corridor and run it into Derby to use the station there."
After Monday's announcement a consultation is likely to begin in May.
North West Leicestershire District Council leader Richard Blunt said: "It does look like the route will run through the Roxhill site and I doubt we can have both."
North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen said he did not want to speculate on the route before it was officially announced but has questioned the value of the project.
Neither the HS2 Ltd – a Government-owned firm – or the Department of Transport would comment on the route though both said there would be an announcement imminently. Nobody from Roxhill was available for comment.