Kirklees Council has made a formal objection to a massive £1.5 billion rail electrification scheme – but have welcomed the investment and are keen for it to go ahead.
The council doesn’t want to stop the development – in fact just the contrary – but they will use the formal objection to minimise disruption as much as possible for local residents.
The TransPennine Route Upgrade will see eight miles of line between Huddersfield Railway Station and Westtown near Dewsbury fully electrified and widened to four tracks. Huddersfield, Mirfield and Ravensthorpe railway stations will be re-modelled.
Road bridges will have to be demolished and rebuilt and there is expected to be years of disruption.
Kirklees Council officers have been talking to Network Rail since 2017 but remain concerned over the lack of detail.
Tim Lawrence, the council’s transport strategy and policy group leader, told a full meeting of the council the development would span “a number of years” and the council needed to know what the disruption would be.
“As the old saying goes ‘you cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs’ but we have to know about the disruption so we can plan for it,” he said.
The council had 10 concerns including:
- The potential loss of up to 1,000 trees;
- Disturbance to residents living near a proposed construction compound at Hillhouse;
- Disruption on the roads particularly around Colnebridge, Bradley and Mirfield;
- Concern over responsibility and maintenance for a new A62 Leeds Road Bridge;
- The impact on historic buildings in Huddersfield Conservation Area;
- Access to council waste disposal sites at Emerald Street in Hillhouse and Weaving Lane in Dewsbury.
Councillors of all parties backed the objection to the Secretary of State, a move seen as a means of getting Network Rail to the negotiating table.
Clr Will Simpson, Cabinet member for Greener Kirklees and Culture, said: “This is not a small matter and we don’t object like this for the fun of it.
“A scheme like this will inevitably have a big impact but we have not had proper information or adequate assurances on behalf of our residents.
“I don’t think any of us oppose this investment, we welcome it and we need it. But this is going to cause significant disruption.”
Clr Peter McBride, Cabinet member for Regeneration, said: “The whole operation delivery should be jointly managed to safeguard the public and their interests.
“The Department for Transport has behaved appallingly on this. They should have consulted and worked jointly with Kirklees. The scale of the operation is massive.
“We are 100% (behind) the proposal but the way it’s done is crucially important to Kirklees. There should have been total collaboration with Kirklees.
“I very much welcome the development but I’m hugely apprehensive that if it’s not dealt with properly something will be imposed on us. Five times the Government has changed its mind about the scale, and clearly they are going ahead, which we massively welcome, but it’s crucial they do it in collaboration with Kirklees.”