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The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has published visualisations of High Speed 2’s (HS2) construction and operational impacts [1]. The charity is using them to highlight the need to work harder to minimise damage to the most unspoilt parts of the countryside.

Maps available at:

Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner for CPRE says: ‘Current noise and compensation laws [2] focus just on the impact to people’s homes. While this is very important it means less attention is given to reducing the impact of new infrastructure on more sparsely populated areas of our countryside. Tranquil areas are important to people and nature; we need to defend them.

‘CPRE’s new HS2 maps show how HS2 could intrude on peaceful parts of countryside. Protecting these special areas may simply mean filling a gap in noise barriers between two villages, so that footpaths benefit as well as back gardens. But it may mean thinking again about the height and alignment of the route.’

CPRE is highlighting three sections of the route as examples.

  • Waterton Park, West Yorkshire: the eastern arm of phase 2 would pass on  a viaduct and embankments, near the site of what is believed to be the world’s first nature reserve, as well as popular reservoirs.
  • Trent Valley, Staffordshire: the western arm of phase 2 would pass on long viaducts within earshot of the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
  • Danes Moor, Northamptonshire: the section of phase 1 with the heaviest noise footprint would pass near the site of the Battle of Edgecote Moor, a turning point in the War of the Roses. 

CPRE will be demonstrating its new mapping to rail minister Simon Burns, MP, on 20 August [3] to make the case for better protection of the countryside.

Smyth concludes: ‘Our maps will be able to show you what the impacts along HS2’s route [4] may be if you were walking or living in the countryside in August 2023 when HS2 is being constructed, or even in 2033 when it would be operating. They show that much more needs to be done so that the process of constructing HS2 does not disrupt rural communities and destroy country roads.  They also suggest how the final design of HS2 can be improved so that the new railway, if it is built, is  something the country can be proud of in decades to come.’
[1] ITO World Ltd (ITO) is UK company based in Ipswich that specialises in the production of stunning maps and visual effects for better understanding and analysing complex transport data.
[2] The 2002 Environmental Noise Directive calls for ‘the protection of quiet areas in open country’ but the relevant part of it has not yet been implemented. CPRE is concerned that unless action is taken now to future-proof HS2 to ensure it meets environmental laws likely to be in force when it trains are proposed to start running, it will be too late to make the necessary design changes.
 [3] CPRE has been given 15 minutes to present the new maps when meeting the minister at the HS2 Ministerial Roundtable, of which CPRE is a leading member. More information about the meetings is available here:
[4] Detailed information is not yet available for phase 2 of the route as the Government is currently consulting on the alignment.