Campaigners set for 100 mile walk to Wigan in protest against HS2

Activists will set off on an epic trek across the North West to raise awareness of how HS2 will affect the region.

Friday, 25th June 2021, 7:00 am

Activists will set off on an epic trek across the North West to raise awareness of how HS2 will affect the region.

Campaigners will embark on a 100 mile walk in a bid to raise awareness of what they say is “the true impact” of the high speed rail plans.

Dubbed The Truth Trail, the activists will set off from Lichfield tomorrow and end in Wigan early next month, following the north-western section of HS2 Phase 2a and 2b.

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Activists will set off on an epic trek across the North West to raise awareness of how HS2 will affect the region
Activists will set off on an epic trek across the North West to raise awareness of how HS2 will affect the region

The protest has been planned and organised by Stop HS2 (North) with the support of the wider anti-HS2 movement, including HS2 Rebellion and Stop HS2.

A spokesperson for The Truth Trail, Alan from Wigan, said, “We are undertaking this 100 mile Truth Trail to raise awareness of the disruption and ruin which is threatening communities further north. Many of us have seen or experienced first-hand the devastating effect that HS2 has on the communities it passes through.

“By sharing our knowledge and experience, we hope that those areas under threat from Phase 2a and 2b will be better able to defend themselves, their homes, businesses and natural environment from HS2.

“HS2 is an ecocidal, concrete nightmare. HS2 has already begun tearing a scar through the heart of our green and pleasant land, terrorising local people and turning precious ancient woodlands, vital green spaces and residential areas into barren sites of devastation.

“The budget continues to spiral out of control - a figure of £200Bn was used in the House of Lords, Phase 2a debate before Christmas. In comparison, Boris Johnson claimed he can build 40 new hospitals for £3.7bn. As we start to pay back the cost of Covid and office workers adjust to a new normal of working from home, it is time for the government to adapt and invest in a truly green recovery.

“HS2 fails on its own terms. There is nothing sustainable about cutting down woodlands to construct a glorified airport shuttle service, which only the rich will be able to afford a ticket to use. HS2 does nothing to help the communities that it will devastate as it races to the next big city. As we have seen from high speed rail links in other countries, the money flows away from the satellite cities and provincial towns towards the biggest centre. HS2 will not level-up the north; it will be London that gains the most. An investment in high speed internet, local transport links, and re-wilding projects would achieve much of what HS2 claims to, and at a fraction of the cost.

“We are in a climate emergency. The government has pledged we will be carbon neutral by 2050, which is itself already too late. But HS2 will not be completed until the 2040s and will never be carbon neutral.

“We do not have any more time. We need to stop HS2 and we need to unite different communities, towns and cities to do so.”

A spokesperson for HS2 said: “HS2 Ltd takes the environmental cost of construction very seriously, which is why we’re delivering an unprecedented programme of tree planting and habitat creation alongside the new railway.

“For Phase 2b from Crewe to Manchester our ambition is to deliver a net gain in biodiversity, which would mean leaving behind even greater biodiversity than exists before we begin building.

“The construction of HS2 is playing a vital role in Britain’s economic recovery from Covid-19, with over 16,000 people working on the project, tens of thousands of additional jobs supported through our supply chain, and hundreds of companies in the Midlands already benefitting.

“HS2 will massively improve transport links for Wigan, connecting the town to Birmingham in just over half an hour and London less than 90 minutes.

“The new integrated high speed station will be a focal point for regeneration in the town and encourage economic growth.”

“HS2 is integral to local plans to drive business growth. A 10 year masterplan has been agreed with the Canal and River Trust to redevelop Wigan Pier Quarter, just 10 minutes’ walk from Wigan North Western, as a retail and leisure destination. To make the most of HS2 services, plans include better links to Wigan Wallgate station to improve interconnectivity with east-west rail to Manchester, Southport and Kirby.

“Wigan Council is identifying additional new major employment sites to attract further high-quality jobs and investment. The Council is also investing £1.3m to make Market Place the cultural and social heart of the town.”

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