The HS2 extension will supplement East Coast Main Line services to Leeds. Photo: DA Ingham CC-BY-ND-2.0

The HS2 extension will supplement East Coast Main Line services to Leeds. Photo: DA Ingham CC-BY-ND-2.0

Britain’s biggest walking charity has welcomed today’s news that the two extensions of the planned HS2 railway lines will not pass through national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

But the Ramblers said they would have to examine closely the detailed proposals to Manchester and Leeds to see how they will affect walkers and the English countryside.

The Government announced today that two further stretches of the high-speed rail line would be built from Birmingham to the two northern cities.

The Ramblers have previously voiced concerns that plans for the first stretch of the high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham could sever an estimated 150 footpaths and damage the surrounding countryside.

The charity said it welcomed today’s news that the routes announced today would avoid popular walking destinations such as the Peak District and Cannock Chase.

The Ramblers said they were also pleased to see that the proposals suggest steps should be taken to avoid permanently closing footpaths and other rights of way which cross the route.

The charity said it supports improvements in green transport and will now carefully examine the detail of the route; continuing to engage with government to ensure the interests of walkers and all those who enjoy the countryside are taken into account.

The Ramblers will also continue to work with other conservation and environmental bodies to ensure that the impact of the route to our countryside and our footpaths is minimised as part of a coalition of organisations signed up to the Right Lines Charter which sets out the principles of doing High Speed rail well.

Nicky Philpott, Ramblers director of campaigns and policy, said: “The Ramblers welcomes today’s news that the next phase of high-speed rail will not pass through our national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty.

“We will examine the route closely to see what it means for walkers and outdoor enthusiasts and work to mitigate its impact on our footpath network and surrounding landscape.

“We look forward to working with government and other environmental and conservation bodies to ensure that the interests of all those who enjoy the countryside are taken into account.”

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