My life has been blighted by the Chunnel - twice: Alwyn Phillips has already had to move home once because of the rail link. Now it's happening again

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Indy Lifestyle Online
IT WAS in March 1989 that we received a letter telling us that we were in the rail link 'corridor,' and that British Rail wanted to purchase our house. The day I got the letter, I just burst into tears. BR said if there were any changes of plan it would just be a question of a 'slight realignment' - nothing dramatic. Complete rubbish as it turned out.

Our house was located along the route proposed for the new Channel Tunnel link in the Kent Weald, and after months of agonising about whether we should move and sell up to BR, we decided to go.

We'd been living there for 14 years and had made it our dream home. It was super. We'd extended it; had it fully carpeted and tiled it throughout. We had a lovely garden, overlooking an area of 'outstanding natural beauty.' But we just couldn't bear the insecurity of knowing that any minute BR might announce that earthworks were about to begin at the end of the garden.

As we couldn't find anything as nice as our original home, we decided to build a new one two miles away. We got a fair price for our house from BR, and pounds 15,000 compensation for 'disturbance'. We were reasonably satisfied.

We moved into rented accommodation for 18 months, while our new house was being built. As our old house wasn't being used or being demolished immediately, we asked if we could rent it from BR until our new house was finished. But they wouldn't let us - I've no idea why, since they allowed another family to rent it instead.

Last year they eventually announced that our old home was going to be demolished, so we thought 'Oh well, it was obviously the right thing to move.' And eight months ago we moved into our new home.

I was casually watching the television news last Monday, when this terrible announcement came up. It said they were intending to change the route so that it goes past our new house - just 100 yards away from the end of the garden.

I just couldn't believe it. I couldn't understand how they could suddenly restart a plan that they'd thrown out five years earlier. I'm still in a state of shock. We'd just pulled ourselves together and picked up our life again and it was all back to square one. I don't know how to explain how I feel.

They must have spent a fortune on buying people up, advertising the project, meetings, and now they just change their minds. We've been told so many times that that the route by our last house was the route it was to be - and that was final. And now we found we'd leapt out of the frying pan into the fire.

I'm not sleeping at nights; and my husband's badly affected by it, too. He goes all quiet, unlike me - prefers not to talk about it too much. I'd say that at several points this whole thing could've destroyed us. It has put such a strain on us.

Our jobs are here, my mother is a mile down the road, and my family all live within a radius of a few miles, so I wouldn't like to move away. I love the country around here - it's Darling Buds of May country - it's so pretty.

I suppose there might be a possibility now that we might be able to reoccupy our original home, if they decide to put the line near our new house. But I don't know if I'd like to do that. I suppose we've come to love our new house and forgotten about the old one.

When we left our old house, we had to put it all behind us, to try to forget what we'd made of our lives there. It'd be like taking a step backwards to go back there now. I've written to our local MP and I'll write to the council, John MacGregor and John Major. All I can do now is pray - pray that they reconsider. If all else fails I might have to lie down in front of the

diggers.

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