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  1. ITV Report

Keith Wilkinson looks at the impact of HS2 on our picturesque districts

Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire Photo: ITV News Central

Supporters of the high speed railway HS2 will warn at a major conference tomorrow that there will be serious consequences if the project is scrapped.

They will claim that our existing lines will clog up and Britain's economy will be damaged.

Opponents say the train will destroy the countryside Credit: HS2 Ltd

But along the planned routes between London, the Midlands and going through Nottingham, opponents say it will destroy the countryside, and hit the tourist industry.

A Grade One 16th century gatehouse where Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner, and Shugborough Hall, an attraction that draws visitors from all over the world overlook the valley of the River Trent near Great Haywood in Staffordshire.

They are spanned by the longest packhorse bridge in England, and one of many picturesque rural areas destined to be cut through by the high speed railway HS2.

Map shows HS2 route passing close to Shugborough Hall Credit: HS2 Ltd

In this case, the second phase section from Birmingham to Manchester.

One of the UK's biggest earners is tourism.

It is said to be worth well over £100 billion to the economy.

There are 34,000 boats on our canal network, they are used by almost six million boaters a year.

And at Great Haywood is one of the most popular junctions, a new marina with 200 berths would like to expand.

But the route of HS2 is to be built right alongside on a gigantic concrete viaduct and embankment straight across the canal and the Trent flood plain.

On the other side of the valley, it will slice right through the golf course at Ingestre.

Brian Robson, Ingestre Golf Club said:

If it happens to go ahead it will decimate the course completely.

It would cut it completely in half and ruin the course as it stands.

It starts off going through the 18th hole, through the 10th, 11th, up the side of the 14th, and the 7th, 5th and 4th.

And it completely decimates the 4th.

Close to that golf course, and in earshot of the line - one of England's finest Jacobean mansions.

Now used by Sandwell Council for children's residential courses.

Next to it, a church designed by Sir Christopher Wren.

Also close to the line, a quiet hamlet whose residents once included David Cameron.

Michael Woodhouse built a water wheel in his garden so he could enjoy his retirement listening to the trickle of water.

He fears that retirement will be anything but peaceful, especially once the construction lorries roll in.

"It's a beautiful rural setting," he said, "it has been well looked after and maintained for all these years.

"It has a history that goes back to the Doomsday Book, and now we have a different Doomsday approaching and everybody in the village is absolutely devastated."

A mile or so north and the route demolishes a number of farms.

Including one, built in 1830, the line will cut in half the 200 acres used to grow crops and graze sheep.

Beyond, the 80-acre Staffordshire county showground, the high-speed trains will travel straight through this section in a deep cutting.

Currently this part of the route hosts Europe's biggest show jumping event, with 1,500 horses.

The showground holds 165 events a year, pulling in 485,000 visitors.

And earning many millions of pounds for the economy of Staffordshire.

The future is now uncertain.

And here they are trying at the very least to get the route enclosed in a tunnel.

Although HS2 will run some distance from Shugborough and the Tixall Gatehouse, it will be close to a historic pavilion.

The Landmark Trust which rescues buildings like this is worried about the impact.

And many visitors and locals we spoke to said they felt it would spoil the wider area as a tourist destination.

Tourist Helen Prince said:

I think if there was a high speed link coming close to the Landmark property here then it would probably be very difficult to think of it as a beautiful and peaceful location.

Tourist Larissa Docherty said:

I don't think so because you would spoil the view completely across these fields and over the valley. It would just look absolutely awful.

"We are seeing this thing coming through 50 or 60 feet high on railway embankments and on viaducts," Trevor Forrester, Staffordshire Against HS2 said.

And very, very noisy and the whole of Ingestre is blighted.

This thing does not stop in Staffordshire.

It tears a massive gap and scar right through properties.

Supporters of HS2 say far from destroying tourism, it will bring in even more visitors, especially from Europe.

And it will help them get around the country.

Much of the landscape, they say, will be protected with cuttings, tunnels, and tree planting.

But many of those who enjoy this bit of the countryside will take a lot of convincing.