'HS2 high speed train line is going to go through my farm'
HUNDREDS of people are joining forces to fight proposals to drive high speed trains through the heart of the Staffordshire countryside.
Stone MP Bill Cash called public meetings at Swynnerton and Madeley over the weekend to gather opposition to the proposed HS2 rail route.
There was not enough room at Swynnerton Cricket Club to accommodate all the 250 people who turned up for the meeting – with many straining to listen through open windows.
Mr Cash said: "This is a meeting about protest.
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"The news of the route came as a complete bolt out of the blue. I only heard about it at the beginning of last week. Other MPs didn't have any advance notice either.
"I will be very interested to know what economic benefits HS2 will bring, because I haven't been able to spot any.
"There are not even any stopping points in our county."
The Government revealed its preferred route for the £32.7 billion HS2 rail network last Monday.
At least two trains an hour will stop at Crewe – slashing journey times to London from one hour 40 minutes to just 58 minutes.
But the HS2 track will pass through a number of areas including Betley, Madeley, Whitmore, Baldwins Gate and Swynnerton.
Protesters who gathered at Swynnerton Cricket Club believe the track will destroy the character of the village by cutting straight through unspoilt countryside.
Many villagers are directly affected by the proposals, with the track scheduled to be built next to, or even through, their homes.
Helen Dyke, aged 52, of The Hattons, Cotes Heath, said: "The track is going right through our farm, and within 400 metres of our farmhouse.
"We have lived on the farm for three generations. We are tenant farmers of Lord Stafford.
"We got no warning at all. The first we heard was when the local land agent called a few days ago and said we should be worried.
"When I first saw the plans, I called my husband George to come in.
"It was a shock, but it is still at the planning stages and it will be at least 20 years before any trains are running."
Daughter Caroline Dyke, aged 25, said: "It is just very emotional."
Swynnerton resident Josie Windsor, aged 68, said: "Hanchurch Hills is a big walking area, which was given to the people by Lord Stafford.
"A few years ago there were plans for a quarry and all the people of Stoke-on-Trent gave £1 to fight the proposals.
"People are going to places like Hanchurch Hills more and more for the countryside, because they can't afford to go abroad on holiday. But this track would devastate such a nice area of countryside."
Yvonne Pynenburg, of Swynerton, said: "I feel very sorry for the farmers who are going to lose their land.
"Swynnerton is a very nice village which has been here for centuries.
We have already got the M6 on one side, I think we have suffered enough."
Saturday afternoon's meeting was attended by the national Stop HS2 action group.
Campaign co-ordinator Joe Rukin said: "There was a fantastic turnout at Swynnerton. There wasn't even room in the building, which shows the strength of feeling.
"The idea is to make sure people have the information they need to fight this.
"We've always known this was a bad plan and the more it is in the public spotlight, the more people realise it."
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