EFFORTS to stop hundreds of heavy goods vehicves from the HS2 rail line trundling through Balsall Common village are being stepped up as the planning applications go before Solihull Council.
Nearly 900 objections have been lodged against a trio of applications that would see an estimated 200 HS2 lorries rumbling through the village every single day during the construction phase.
A petition signed by more than 2,700 people on change.org also objects to the plans.
Campaigners are angry that HS2, having previously identified using the line of the railway itself for HGVs, thereby largely avoiding Balsall Common, has not actively pursued this option.
“HS2 so far has spent too much time saying why they can’t do it instead of working out how they can do it,” said Borough Councillor Tony Dicicco (Con, Meriden).
“There are technical issues in doing this, I accept that, but we believe these can be overcome.”
One of those issues is how to cross the West Coast Mainline with the minimum of disruption.
Protesters want HS2 to explore using the bridge at Truggist Hill Farm and then using the line of the railway rather than sending trucks through the village.
“We have been asking HS2 to look at this for a number of years and they have paid lip service to us. The roads in Balsall Common simply are not set up for this volume of traffic,” said Coun Dicicco.
He together with fellow Meriden ward councillors, Coun Ken Allsop and Coun Diane Howell, have each called in one of the planning applications so they can each speak at the planning meeting.
Also objecting is Meriden MP Saqib Bhatti, who has publicly objected to the planning applications.
In a letter to Solihull’s planning committee he says: “The significant increase in the number of vehicles proposed will result in congestion on local roads and will be detrimental to air quality in a residential area.
“This is simply not good enough and falls short of the commitment that HS2 made to be a ‘good neighbour’.”
A spokesperson for HS2 said they had considered several options to minimise traffic through Balsall Common, and that an original estimate of 388 two way lorry movements had now been cut to 200.
They said: “Our priority is to minimise impacts on local communities wherever possible.
“We are building a haul road in this area, which will take construction traffic off local roads, but until the road is built we need to use the existing local road network.”