A CAMPAIGN group against HS2 has been attacked by the company building the project and accused of ‘scaremongering’ the public.
Mid Cheshire Against HS2 is concerned about the environmental impact of the high-speed railway, which it claims ‘will likely never be carbon neutral’, and points towards the emissions that will be caused during its construction.
The group now has fresh concerns over the use of quicklime on the project, after HS2 Ltd awarded a contract for the supply of around 100,000 tonnes of the substance for the Phase 1 – between London and Birmingham.
But HS2 Ltd has slammed the campaign group, insisting quicklime is commonly used in building and infrastructure projects across the UK.
A spokesman for the company said: “HS2 takes the environmental cost of construction very seriously.
“Instead of pushing scaremongering stories, these campaigners should observe that all leading environmental organisations agree that climate change is the biggest future threat to wildlife and habitats in the UK.
“By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country’s push to reduce carbon emissions.”
Lime stabilisation involves adding quicklime as a cementitious material to soils which are otherwise too soft for their intended use.
HS2 Ltd says the process will be used for shallow ground improvement and would not be used to address historical subsidence issues seen in Cheshire if the route north of Birmingham is approved.
Mid Cheshire Against HS2 says around 1,000 kg of CO2 is emitted for every tonne of quicklime produced, including the formation of calcium oxide and the heat needed to produce it.
Graham Dellow, vice-chairman of Mid Cheshire Against HS2, fears large quantities of the substance could be used in the area for Phase 2b of the scheme – between Crewe and Manchester.
He said: “This toxic chemical is apparently needed to help stabilise the ground which will have to support the concrete and steel and the dynamic forces of trains moving at speeds up to 250mph.
“Along the route ground conditions vary enormously and opponents of HS2 believe that massive and expensive engineering problems still to come will continue to push up the already escalating costs.
“While lime has been used for centuries all over the world in mortar and as a stabiliser in mud renders and floors, we are doubtful that it has ever been used on such a massive scale for any infrastructure project.
“It is a toxic substance liable to strict handling protocols because it can have very serious damaging effects.”
The campaign group says this will add to ‘thousands of tonnes of CO2’ produced from the steel and cement industry during construction, as well as vehicle movements while the railway is built.
But HS2 Ltd says its contractors have also carried out risk assessments on the use of quicklime and environmental mitigations – and that these have been approved by the Department for Transport.
A spokesman added: “Lime stabilisation is commonly used in road and rail infrastructure projects across the UK and Europe, and HS2 contractors conduct full risk assessments before using it.
“In addition, the use of lime to improve soils enables their re-use on the project instead of disposing of them, and therefore has a significant overall environmental benefit.”
Phase 2b, including the route through Cheshire, is yet to receive approval by Parliament.
Source: Northwich Guardian