HS2 destroyed my local greenway for a monstrous 700m concrete tunnel - it should never have been allowed
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The local greenway in my hometown used to be a lovely place for a run, or to have a nice walk, or ride your bike - but then HS2 came along.
The path was lined with luscious trees and was rich with habitats, but all that used to flourish there has now been destroyed - replaced instead by an open stretch of nothing except rubble, a tunnel and years more work.
As I walk round the remnants of the greenway to enjoy a walk, I can no longer just enter a path with a lovely woodland. Instead I’m greeted with cones, workmen, loud noises, cars building up from the lights and the view of the sheer destruction that is HS2.
The main bulk of the greenway has been swept away in yet another government project that has already seen delays and could possibly not follow through.
The tunnel being built where the greenway once thrived is 700m wide and will carry HS2 trains through Burton Green in Kenilworth, Coventry. Once completed it is set to have green space over the top, covered with trees and plants. But this doesn’t take away what us as locals have lost.
The greenway was formerly known as the Berkswell to Leamington line from 1884 and was converted into a walking ‘greenway’ in 1973. Houses surrounding the planned route that were on the edge of an area carved out for the tunnel were traumatically demolished to enable the southern end of the tunnel to be built first.
How would government ministers feel if their homes had to be demolished for a high speed rail project?
Most ministers do not see the destruction that HS2 causes where they live - and certainly do not think about the consequences for local people when debating in the Houses of Parliament, far from where the work is happening.
The beloved greenway allowed us to get away from the rat race and it has been dug up to make room for a project that has already been delayed for another two years.
The Transport Secretary recently admitted that the HS2 rail link might not even reach central London until 2040. All of the destruction and wiping out of nature it has caused all for a service that may now not even be completed for decades to come.
Residents who live next to the remnants of the greenway used to enjoy a peaceful road, with the beauty of nature nearby. Now they’ve had continuous loud work for years and that will continue - it is not fair and the project should never have been allowed to go ahead.
HS2 says the green tunnel will “not only provide excellent noise and visual mitigation during operation” but “allow connectivity and in this instance realign the Kenilworth Greenway and other environmental features."
But “excellent noise and visual mitigation” does not take away from the years of disruption, loud noises and chaos outside of your house and the destruction of a beautiful greenway that was enjoyed by so many in the area.
Before construction, HS2 said on its website that the construction “will have an impact on this community facility, which is used by circa 150,000 people a year” and it recognised “the importance of this feature locally and have developed proposals for both its temporary and permanent use”.
A Kenilworth Greenway still exists and is enjoyed by the locals but what we had is lost. To add further insult, we are reminded of this sad fact by graffiti on brick walls further down the path. Some slogans read ‘HSPOO’, ‘Stop Ecocide’, and ‘Our Land Will Be Unrecognisable’.
What residents now have to put up with for years cannot be disregarded simply because remnants of the pathway still remain or other projects are underway to mask the destruction.
For example, HS2 has worked with the Burton Green Village Hall since 2014 to design and build a brand new community hall that now stands opposite the view of the high-speed train and the leftover Kenilworth Greenway.
It is a starting point for locals, and something to enjoy - but the destruction carries on around when it should have all been left alone to begin with.