'Nuclear bomb' HS2 works exposes bottles of dumped urine in Solihull
“Revolting” bottles tossed from vehicles by lorry drivers have been exposed by the felling of trees along a key Solihull route by HS2 contractors. Fresh concerns have been been raised about the scale of vegetation clearance in the borough countryside, which has been likened to the impact of “a nuclear bomb.” And the removal of greenery has also had the unfortunate effect of revealing containers of urine and other rubbish near a truck stop on the A452 Kenilworth Road, between Balsall Common and Hampton-in-Arden.
The issue was raised at the latest meeting of the council’s HS2 implementation advisory group, with the rail project pledging to look into the concerns.
Cllr Alison Rolf (Con, Bickenhill) said: “Unfortunately there are some, shall we say, not as lovely lorry drivers as all of them are … who put bodily fluid into bottles and then throw it out the window of their truck as they approach [the truck stop]. “Obviously the clearance has meant that there are a lot of such items now very, very visible on a walk that a lot of people in Hampton use. “Now High Speed 2 did promise Solihull Council that they were going to remove said revolting items that had been exposed.”
One of the bottles discarded at the location. (Image: David Irwin)
Cllr Tony Dicicco, who chairs the meeting, had confirmed there was a lot of concern about the extent of the works along that stretch of road.
“It does look like a nuclear bomb has fallen in that area to be honest. “I’ve had a number of residents in Balsall Common actually commenting on the enthusiastic nature of some of the tree felling along the A452. And it’s not gone down well.”
HS2 has insisted it is planting millions more trees, but the impact on existing habitats has caused tension in Solihull. (Image: David Irwin)
Jonathan Lord, from HS2 Ltd, had said the firm had given a commitment to “only remove the minimum vegetation that’s required to construct and operate the scheme.”
He also confirmed he would make some enquiries about the removal of the offending bottles as “that does not sound nice.” During this month’s meeting, HS2 had briefed councillors on how the project was working to replace habitats lost along the length of the rail route.
Some lorry drivers have failed to heed the plea from this local road sign. (Image: David Irwin)
Simon Casey, senior environment manager on the scheme, said that up to seven million trees and shrubs were being planted on Phase 1 of the route – connecting London and Birmingham.
‘Worst of all worlds’ warning
A botched job on HS2 could result in a “worst of all worlds” scenario, the leader of Solihull Green Party has claimed. The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) had last week suggested options which could include downgrading further phases of the project running north from Birmingham.
Proposals laid out in the new report would not mean changes to Phase 1, which would carry the 200mph trains through Solihull.
Although they float the possibility of altering future stages of the programme; terminating in Nottinghamshire as opposed to continuing up to Leeds. Cllr Steve Caudwell, who leads the Green group, said: “Whether you support or oppose HS2, I think we can all agree that doing it badly would be the worst of all worlds. “If HS2 and its environmental costs are to be worthwhile it needs to give us lots of extra capacity, so that we can then use policy to encourage people out of cars and into public transport solutions.
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“Failing to complete Phase 2b through the East Midlands and Yorkshire would actually lead to reduced capacity, making congestion and air pollution issues even worse than they are now as more people drive instead of using trains.” He also expressed frustration that the report pits HS2 against more localised rail projects. “Comprehensive infrastructure investment needs to be top of our agenda if we’re really serious about ‘levelling up’.”
Nationally the Green Party’s policy remains the cancellation of HS2, although some borough councillors have suggested there should be an emphasis on shaping the project’s future.