Coventry & Warwickshire

Kingsbury Water Park: What impact will HS2 have?

Kingsbury Water Park
Image caption Kingsbury Water Park gets about 400,000 visitors each year and will be home to about 1km (0.6 miles) of track

Warwickshire's biggest country park boasts 15 lakes, countless species of wildlife and over 600 acres of countryside.

Kingsbury Water Park has already had to cope with the creation of the M42 in the mid-1980s, but how will the wildlife habitat be affected by shouldering part of the HS2 route from Birmingham to Leeds?

Stuart Ikeringill, rural services manager for Warwickshire County Council, is concerned following Monday's announcement.

Mr Ikeringill said: "There's lots of pressure on the land around here because of the proximity to Birmingham and the conurbation and it's one of the places people can come for a bit of rest and recuperation.

"It's fantastic for wildlife so any additional significant construction project is bound to have a bad impact.

"There's going to have be lots of trees cleared and it's going to be very visually intrusive because of the necessity of having it elevated and keeping a clear corridor either side."

Image caption Stuart Ikeringill is concerned about the impact HS2 will have on the Kingsbury Water Park

'More parks needed'

Mr Ikeringill estimates that the park will be home to about 1km (0.6 miles) of track that will be laid on two embankments and a viaduct.

It is the construction of the railway, which could start in the middle of the next decade, that concerns him most.

"It's hard to get a mental picture of what that looks like," he added.

"We know that the park was formed as a series of gravel pits.

"They were subsequently backfilled with the pulverised fuel ash from the now demolished Hams Hall power station so there are going to be some construction challenges through the park."

Jim Monaghan has been fishing in the park's lakes for over 30 years and the Kingsbury angler is already having to contend with noise from the nearby motorway and 400,000 annual visitors.

"There's not a lot of peaceful countryside left. More parks are needed.

"The success of this park is infringing on my fishing.

Image caption Local angler Daniel Shaw supports HS2 even though it will be "devastating" for the area

"I don't know how the noise of the M42 affects the fish, but it affects me."

Another keen angler from nearby Sutton Coldfield, Daniel Shaw, said he had already seen his favourite fishery Cuttle Mill close because of the HS2 proposal but he still supported the concept.

Mr Shaw said: "It will be great for the country but for the area it's going to be devastating.

"We have to move on and things will change but it's going to ruin very beautiful countryside and add to the motorway noise that we can already hear."

Pooley Park affected

Echills Wood Railway is a 7 1/4 gauge track that has been up and running in the park since 2006 and is in the path of the latest part of the £32bn HS2 project.

Jeff Stevens, from the hobby group, said even their £500,000 railway was not initially welcomed by all of those who frequently used the park.

Mr Stevens said: "We've taken all the considerations of people that complained, but since we've been there we've laid out well over two miles of track and we're now associated with the water park.

"We also provide a service from the top end of the park down to the visitors centre so we are providing somewhat of a passenger service in a small way."

While tracks can be lifted and put down elsewhere, the same cannot be said about country parks.

Image caption The M42 has cut a swathe through the park since the mid-1980s

Just North of Kingsbury is Pooley Country Park, near Polesworth, which is also set to have HS2 cutting a path through it.

Opened in 2002 after Pooley Hall Colliery had closed, it is much smaller than Kingsbury, and Mr Ikeringill believes the high speed rail will have a bigger impact on it.

"Some quite significant investment's gone into Pooley," Mr Ikeringill added.

"We've had a lot of buy in from the local community so it's disappointing that the line is coming straight through the middle of the new car park.

Asked if it could mean the park at Pooley would close, he said: "At this stage we don't know.

"We'll have to have a dialogue both with local community and with HS2 Ltd to see what might be on the table but that's much further down the line because they've not launched their consultation yet."

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