'An alien monolith in the sky': North Yorkshire village of Church Fenton reacts to HS2 flyover plans


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The Independent Online

In the tiny community of Church Fenton, North Yorkshire, the announcement was greeted with anger and disbelief by residents who fear it will leave them living under “an alien monolith in the sky”.

The village of 700 houses, a Norman church, two pubs, a post office, an 1840s primary school and Indian takeaway has been relatively untouched by change for centuries.

Today they were confronted with plans for a “flyover” style supertrack for 200mph trains mounted on 42ft stilts in case of flooding.

Also planned north of the village is a network hub to connect the new line with existing track.

Jo Mason, a guiding light of the parish council, fears they could end up living in the shadow of “something like Spaghetti Junction”.

She said: “We as a village will fight this every step of the way. There are no benefits to Church Fenton and it can only mean one thing to this ancient village - disaster.

”Whatever happens people have been put in this very uncertain position of living under a massive flyover with 200mph trains going through it.

“We will come out of our house and look up at an alien monolith in the sky.”

Initial reaction in the village from those who had heard its name in the national news for the first time in years had been positive.

Ryan Bayley, 21, a brewery worker at John Smith's in nearby Tadcaster, said: “It doesn't bother me a bit of noise. At the end of the day you get used to it.”

Susan Parks, 77, who also lives near the station, added: “It's progress.

”The trains do not really bother me - apart from the freight trains at night. Sometimes I get bounced up and down as I'm lying in bed.“

But as horrified locals obtained better particulars from the internet, opposition hardened rapidly.

Maps appear to show the line of the track running directly through what locals say are the sites of several local homes and blighting the settings of many more.

One of the casualties would be Godfrey Adamson's house, where his family has lived for generations, according interpretations of the Government plans by parish councillors.

Mr Adamson was too upset to talk today. One neighbour said: ”He's devastated. It's like somebody's died. The house has been rendered effectively worthless.“

Mrs Mason added: ”The great big pillars to take it across the flood plain will be standing in nature sites.

“It will dominate the skyline and be the only thing you can see for 15 miles around - and this is before you get into the noise of 200mph trains above where many people like to ride horses.”

In  stark contrast today York Council Leader James Alexander, who also chairs the East Coast Main Line Group, said: “These projects are key to York achieving both a nationally competitive and leading international city economy.

“This commitment to the next phase of the HS2 programme means that York is set to realise real economic benefits upon its completion.

“With access to the country’s capital in just 83 minutes, York will become an even greater hub for tourism and business.”

But Mrs Mason said: “Is this how you heal the North-South divide? By knocking a few minutes off train journeys between York and Leeds? It's ridiculous.

”This thing will be on stilts 14m high visible from all over the village. It will be an abomination. There doesn't seem any rhyme or reason to the route they've chosen and it will completely destroy the rural feel of the village. It is already blighting people's lives and they are distraught.“