We have received the following update from the Buckinghamshire County Council HS2 team.
The Select Committee have now released some details on how the Select Committee process will run. This update provides further information on these details, as well as an update on community support, the Blueprint Part 2, petitions of interest and how HS2 Ltd are responding to petitions.
On the 12 June the Select Committee set out the procedure for petition appearances. The proceedings can be watched at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=15515. The key points include:
· The Select Committee will meet initially in July, and then again in September. The July timetable can be found at https://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/hs2/HS2-Programming.pdf and the programme for September will be released next month.
· Petitioners will be heard geographically, running north to south from Birmingham to London.
· Within each area, County Councils will be heard first, followed by District, Parish and Town councils, followed by community groups, other public bodies, businesses and individuals.
· Topics that will make numerous other petitioning points redundant (e.g. tunnel petitions) will be heard early on in proceedings.
· The programme will be handled by HS2 Ltd’s parliamentary agent, given that they have a clearer idea of what stage negotiations are at. If deemed necessary, the Private Bill Office will intervene.
· If HS2 Ltd is to challenge locus standi, petitioners will receive a letter by the end of next week. Petitioners will have the opportunity to challenge this, and the Select Committee will make the final decision.
· Petitioners will receive notification of when they will appear before the Select Committee four weeks in advance, and the proposed date should accommodate petitioners to some extent. All evidence must be submitted by 5pm 2 working days before the petitioner’s appearance.
· The Select Committee will sit in London. However, visits to the route will be made and petitioners will be able to attend these subject to space considerations.
Appearing at the Select Committee
A document providing information on appearing before the Select Committee, including challenges to locus standi has been released. The full document can be found at https://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/hs2/HS2-procedure-in-committee-note.pdf The key points are:
· If a series of petitions address related issues, the Committee will hear the first petitioner, and then invite subsequent petitioners to make any further points.
· Unnecessarily lengthy arguments from either the petitioner or promoter will not be appreciated.
· A summary of the petitioner’s argument can be included as evidence. This should be no more than two pages long. If the petitioners choose to include this, the Committee will read it in advance and there will be no need to expand on during the hearing.
· Public can attend hearings, although space may be limited. If large numbers intend to attend, the Private Bill Office should be contacted in advance.
· During locus standi hearings (for petitioners who are challenged), the following format will be followed:
o Statement from petitioner explaining how they are directly and specially affected
o Examination of petitioner by HS2 Ltd’s Parliamentary Agent
o Questions from the Committee
o Short closing remark by the Petitioner
o Committee decision (may be at end of sitting)
HS2 Ltd response to petitions
We have heard from members of the community that HS2 Ltd will not be meeting petitioners until they have sent a formal response to all petitioners. Given that 1,925 petitions were submitted, this could be a lengthy process, and therefore you may not hear from HS2 Ltd or their Parliamentary Agent for some time.
In the meantime, all petitioners should have received an email from HS2 Ltd stating that they will be sending Petition Response Documents (PRDs) electronically using an encryption programme called Egress. This has caused some concern, and the Select Committee have strongly urged HS2 Ltd to provide petitioners with alternative methods of communication, including email and post.
We have heard that a number of action groups and Parish Councils have refused to sign up to the Egress system, and Buckinghamshire County Council is also refusing to sign up to the system. Instead, we have requested that our PRDs are sent via email (multiple emails if size restraints required) and two hard copies through the post. However, we emphasise that it is up to each individual petitioner whether or not they choose to sign up to Egress.
In terms of what to expect in the PRD, an example from the Crossrail project can be found here. This demonstrates that Crossrail provided an extensive and in many cases constructive and meaningful response, allowing the petitioner to be well informed leading up to negotiations and potentially the Select Committee stage. It is hoped the HS2 Ltd will provide the same level of detail when responding to petitions, allowing petitioners to be well informed of HS2 Ltd’s argument. Please note the reliance on Information Papers.
In a previous update dated the 11 April, we set out the new property compensation package that has been proposed following further consultation. This includes an express purchase scheme, a voluntary purchase scheme, a need to sell scheme, and a rent-back option. Councillor Martin Tett has since been invited by Robert Goodwill MP to a presentation, where information on the two cash payment schemes was presented, but there was no new information presented.
· For owner-occupiers in the Voluntary purchase area (up to 120m from the line in rural areas), an alternative cash offer of 10% of the un-blighted market value of the property, with a minimum payment of £30,000 and a cap of £100,000. This is intended to help those who decided they do not need to move to protect the value of their investment in their home.
· A Homeowner payment scheme to provide cash payments to eligible owner-occupiers between 120m and 300m from the line, following Royal Assent of the Phase One hybrid Bill.
Further consultation will also be carried out to identify views on changes to the Voluntary Purchase Offer and the Need to Sell Scheme, for example to enable cash payments to be received or reclaimed from homeowners who later choose to sell their homes to HS2 Ltd under either of the other schemes.
It is not yet clear when this next stage of consultation will begin. The full document citing this information can be found here.
Your may have received information from HS2 Ltd about additional provisions. These are additions to the Hybrid Bill that were either missed off or not included correctly and relate to new areas of land that will be affected. Buckinghamshire County Council has already received two letters listing Additional Provisions. Supplementary environmental statements will be carried out for these areas, and the public consultation and petitioning process repeated for these areas. Further information on additional provisions can be found at http://www.hs2.org.uk/developing-hs2/hybrid-bill/additional-provision
We are continuing to work on ways in which we can support individuals and groups throughout Buckinghamshire. We are considering facilitating regular local meetings; running evidence collection workshops; and running workshops for individuals to prepare presenting to the Select Committee. It is clear that many people want support as soon as possible. However, we want to ensure we provide this at the most appropriate time, and when we have all the detail and material available to provide the most constructive support possible.
In order to provide the most appropriate support, we need your feedback on what support you want. We have already been informed that these regular updates are useful. However, feedback on further community support would be much appreciated. Do you require further support? What areas would you like support on? What type of support would be the most useful? Please send your thoughts to us using the contact details below. Once we have a clearer idea on how much interest there is and what support communities need, we will set out a timetable of community support, and send out details on this as soon as they are available. Once we know when the Select Committee is likely to get to Buckinghamshire we shall be arranging a summit for all.
As mentioned previously, it is unlikely that petitioners will hear from HS2 Ltd or their Parliamentary Agent immediately. However, if you are contacted by HS2 Ltd, we continue to offer the same advice regarding negotiations:
· Ensure you have raised all issues that are in your petition with HS2 Ltd at some point. If your petition raises new issues that you have not previously raised (i.e. in your ES response, during public engagement), you should communicate these to HS2 Ltd prior to the Select Committee stage.
· Only agree to meet HS2 Ltd when you are ready. If they approach you before you are ready suggest a date that suits you.
· Do not agree to anything until you are completely happy.
· If you do come to an agreement, ensure this is accurately recorded in the register of Undertakings and Assurances before you withdraw your petition. You can withdraw your petition right up until the last minute and there is no reason to do so any earlier than necessary.
We last published an update to the Blueprint Part 2 on April 28, and as promised we will publish another update soon. This will reflect petitions which have been deposited in Parliament and therefore will be the most refined and accurate presentation yet of what Buckinghamshire needs to mitigate the impact of HS2. We expect this to be published before the end of July. Previous versions of the Blueprint can be seen at http://www.transportforbucks.net/High-Speed-2/HS2-Blueprint.aspx
Petitions of interest
We have highlighted a number of key petitions from around Buckinghamshire that may be of interest (see table below). It may be worth reading through other petitions from your area to identify any areas of agreement or conflict. If you identify areas of agreement it may be worth considering how you could work together to either negotiate with HS2 Ltd, or prepare for the Select Committee stage. If you identify areas of conflict it would be worth organising a meeting with all relevant stakeholders to see how this can be addressed. It is worth overcoming all areas of conflict as soon as possible, as conflict could provide HS2 Ltd with a reason not to implement proposed remedies.
Buckinghamshire’s district councils
Buckinghamshire County Council
Non-Governmental Organisations (national and relevant to Buckinghamshire)
Action groups (relevant to Buckinghamshire)
School/ Church (relevant to Buckinghamshire)
HS2 AA legal case
HS2 Action Alliance has been in court alongside the London Borough of Hillingdon this week to contest the decision made by the Secretary of State for Transport to introduce Safeguarding Directions without undertaking a Strategic Environmental Assessment. If successful, the current ban on developing land identified for the route of Phase 1 of HS2 would be lifted and could not be reinstated until a valid assessment has been carried out. However, the Department for Transport argues that the decision to introduce Safeguarding Directions was made lawfully.
The outcome of the legal challenge will be released at a later date.
Major Projects Authority
The Public Accounts Committee meeting looked at major infrastructure projects on June 5, where major projects across the country were scrutinised. HS2 was identified as a project that needs an eye keeping on it, although very little else was said about the project.
Buckinghamshire County Council HS2 team:
Jackie Copcutt firstname.lastname@example.orgTel: 01296 383793
Alex Day email@example.comTel: 01296 382409
HS2 Blueprint Mailbox HS2Blueprint@buckscc.gov.uk