Stoke & Staffordshire

Whittington high-speed rail campaigners in noise protest

Protesters against the proposed high-speed rail link have been simulating the noise they think the trains would make in a Staffordshire village.

The village of Whittington near Lichfield lies on the planned route of the link between London and Birmingham.

Residents used speakers to play the sound of a French high-speed train, with noise levels reaching 95 decibels.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has said the line, known as HS2, would mean a £44bn boost for the UK economy.

The proposed route would pass through Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Oxfordshire.

'Blight on village'

Those against the plans argue the £17bn scheme will be a waste of money and updating the existing West Coast mainline would be a better investment.

Campaigners in Whittington said the noise protest on Friday would demonstrate some of the sound levels that would be heard in the village, carried on a prevailing wind, equivalent to the 95 decibels of a jet aircraft taking off.

John Heeler, from the Stop HS2 campaign, said driving around the village with the speakers on the back of a pick-up truck would give people an idea of the noise impact.

"The prevailing winds will bring the sound into the village naturally and it's going to make quite a blight for the village and the community in general," he said.

More than a dozen local authorities have opposed the scheme, saying it does not believe the business proposal stacks up.

But Jerry Blackett, from Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said it will revitalise industries and help universities flourish, forming "a critical part of the future".

In February the government launched its consultation on the plans, which would cut journey times between London and the second city to about 50 minutes.

Work on the line is due to start in 2015, if approved.

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