A proposed reroute of the planned HS2 London to Birmingham high-speed rail link through Stoneleigh Park, in Warwickshire, will cause “serious challenges” to the equestrian bodies based on the site and their plans to make Stoneleigh a national centre for horse sport.
The amended route for the £30billion line now avoids Stoneleigh village, after campaigns by residents.
But it would cut through the Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) showground, home to British Showjumping, British Eventing, British Dressage, the British Equestrian Federation (BEF), the Pony Club and National Farmers Union.
BEF chief executive Andrew Finding said: “The HS2 would put a serious spanner in the works of our aim to work with RASE to develop Stoneleigh as a focal point for sport horses in Great Britain and as a post-London 2012 legacy asset.”
He would not say what these plans were, but that they were “a variation” on those for a global horse academy, unveiled in 2007 and then seemingly mothballed.
Maps showing the route of the line have now been released by the Department for Transport (DfT). View the maps [The map showing the route through Stonleigh Park is ref HS2-ARP-07-DR-RW-03212]
A statement from HS2 said: “The alignment would involve greater land taken from the Stoneleigh Park centre. We consider the majority of the facility could remain operational, although the impact on the centre would need detailed assessment.”
A DfT spokesman said a public consultation was planned for the end of the year or early 2011.
“There is a spending review in October so we will learn then if the HS2 will happen,” he said.
No one at RASE was available to talk to H&H, but a spokesman for the Pony Club said it was “a real concern”.
And Mr Finding said the BEF would fight the plans, but added: “I think the current economic climate could put this project on hold.”
This article was first published in Horse & Hound (23 September, ’10)