COUNCILLORS have agreed to petition the government over the impact of HS2 in the borough amid dire warnings it could create 'years of chaos' and economic damage for Winsford.

A meeting of Cheshire West and Chester's Full Council took place last night at Wyvern House in Winsford, where they agreed by a majority of 61 to back the move.

It means the council will now oppose the scheme in its present form, working with Government consultants to reduce the impact on the borough of construction and operation on communities, the landscape and businesses.

This will include seeking mitigation measures, community advocacy, maximising the opportunities for deriving economic benefit and employment opportunities for residents, maintaining traffic flow, ensuring community safety and holding HS2 Ltd to account during the construction phase.

In January, the government introduced the High Speed Rail Bill to construct and maintain HS2 Phase 2b, which will run between Crewe and Manchester.

The planned route will head through parts of Cheshire West, traversing north from Walley’s Green, passing Middlewich and Winsford and crossing the River Dane.

The route will continue north towards Lostock Gralam, to cross over Puddlinglake Brook, the Trent and Mersey Canal, Gad Brook, Wade Brook, Peover Eye and Smoker Brook before continuing into the Pickmere to Agden and Hulseheath area.

Northwich Leftwich councillor Andrew Cooper, told members: "The proposed route for HS2 crosses Whatcroft before following the route to the A556 to the Lostock triangle.

“This is the key route into Northwich from the M6, including to Gadbrook Park where the Morrisons distribution centre and Roberts bakery are located. It’s also the key route to access Road One industrial estate in Winsford.

“It’s vitally important that we have a seat at the table and can speak up for our residents.

“The alternative in the worst case is years of chaos for Northwich residents and severe damage to the local economies of Northwich and Winsford.”

According to a previous council report, the construction phase will include four borrow pits, a new train depot, viaducts and embankments, 'significant disruption' to highways and public rights of way, loss of natural habitat and severance of communities.

The council has previously stated it 'supports the general principle' of HS2, with the economic and environmental benefits it will bring, and that petitioning against this bill aims to influence decisions and to make sure the concerns of residents and businesses are 'heard at the highest level'.

But Councillor Lynn Riley questioned where the 'strategic leadership’ was in bringing the county together.

She told the meeting: "Cheshire should be speaking with one voice on this not as a number of disparate councils, but as a strong economically productive county.

“One of the key defining characteristics of Cheshire that makes us such a powerhouse is our outstanding natural assets, the implications of HS2 against the thing that sits at the heart and character of this amazing county is at risk. "My old nan used to say ‘sticks in a bundle can’t be broken’, we are looking to see more meaningful opportunities for engagement.”

The bill could have its second reading in Parliament in early summer, followed by a period of approximately 25 days for petitions to be submitted which could be before July.

With the motion now approved, the council will start the process of hiring a QC, Parliamentary agent and other experts. It could cost up to £385,000 to prepare and present the petition, which would be funded from a reserve created from an underspend in 2021-22.