The decision by a council to reject HS2’s application to build an ecological mitigation site around the Colne Valley Viaduct has been overturned by the government. The ecological work had been given the go ahead following the council refusing permission, however, Chris Grayling and James Brokenshire broke the news to Hillingdon Council and HS2.
The application for permission to undertake environmental mitigation works was made previously by HS2 to the council as they prepared to construct a 3.4km viaduct in the Colne Valley. Work already carried out around the valley has already been criticised by local politicians, residents and campaign groups with demonstrations taking place on the site since 2017.
The application was rejected by the council on the grounds that insufficient information had been provided by HS2 regarding the archaeological work that was going to be undertaken.
The claim made by the council was backed by an independent panel planning inspector where it was found that HS2 had not provided enough information on the ecology work but also that archaeological aspect of the work. However, the transport and communities secretary have stepped up and overturned the rejection made by the council, indicating that there was no basis for the approval of the application to be refused.
The letter said “They hereby allow HS2’s appeal and approve the Schedule 17 application for the creation of the Colne Valley Viaduct South Embankment wetland habitat ecological mitigation, comprising earthworks and fencing.”
It is still possible for Hillingdon council to make a request for a judicial review of the decision made by the government. The site is due to be built around the viaduct and it will included a mitigation pond, reptile basking bank, two retreats for hibernating animals and fencing.
Many calls have been made for the HS2 work around the Colne Valley Viaduct to be scrapped with many demonstrators chaining themselves to machinery and trees as a way of disrupting the work.
Just over a year ago, over 30 different protest incidents had occurred and so, the DfT was given an injunction to prevent protestors from protesting on the site. However, just a few months ago, campaigners still managed to stop work as they chained themselves to chimney pieces.