Kirklees Council withdraws objection to £1.5bn TransPennine Route Upgrade plan

Kirklees Council has withdrawn its objection to Network Rail’s £1.5 billion TransPennine Route Upgrade at the eleventh hour.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 4:00 pm
Mirfield Station

The council had previously expressed its support for the scheme, which will see electrification of the line between Huddersfield and Westtown.

However, the council was concerned that Network Rail would not fully explain or negotiate over the potential disruption that would be caused on road and rail and so lodged an official objection.

The objection was only ever seen as a negotiating tactic to bring Network Rail officials round the table and the council has now withdrawn the objection and will not take part in a public inquiry, due to start on November 2 at the John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield.

In a statement the council said: “The council closely examined the proposals from Network Rail and have worked collaboratively with them, and others, to fine tune the technical details and ensure disruption for residents during construction is minimised.

“The positive partnership that has been forged with Network Rail means that the council will be able to engage with them from now until the completion of the project, keeping the interests of Kirklees residents and businesses at the forefront of the process.

“Assurances have come in the form of three legally binding agreements with Network Rail to cover highways issues, arrangements around the sustained operation of the household waste recycling centres at Emerald Street in Huddersfield and Weaving Lane in Dewsbury during the construction process and secured financial contributions for replacement tree planting and long-term management of woodland areas post completion of the project.

“An agreed list of planning conditions will also be submitted into the inquiry process, to be considered by the planning inspector and be attached to the planning consent for the works and an agreed statement of common ground.”

Coun Peter McBride, cabinet member for regeneration, said: “We welcome this investment in Kirklees. We are certain that the TransPennine Route Upgrade is in the best interests of us all.

“Improved travel from Kirklees and into the North of England is essential for our economic future.

“As a result of the close partnership working between the council and Network Rail, we are now in a position to withdraw our objection to the project and no longer need to take part in the public inquiry.

“We will continue to protect the interests of the residents and businesses of Kirklees and we look forward to seeing this ambitious programme come to life.”

The upgrade plan will double the number of tracks from two to four and will mean a new station at Ravensthorpe and significant improvements at Mirfield Station.

Coun Martyn Bolt (Con, Mirfield) called for more details from the Labour-run council and said: “We need to know what deals have been done.

“One of the issues we had was who had the liability for new bridges that have to be built.

"If Kirklees takes responsibility for them that means it will be a cost to local taxpayers infinitum.”