HS2 Update 2 Nov 2014

We have received the following update from the Buckinghamshire County Council HS2 team:

(Note: previous Updates can be found on the Campaigns part of this web site at https://www.amershamsociety.org/topics/hs2/

Buckinghamshire County Council has now planned the next set of community support meetings, which will focus on evidence preparation for appearing before the Select Committee. This update provides further information on these events, as well as information on numerous announcements that have been made recently.

HS2 local area meetings

We have now organised dates for the next round of local area meetings. Based on feedback from the Summit, these meetings will focus specifically on collecting evidence, preparing evidence and presenting this to the Select Committee. Therefore if you are not planning to appear before the Select Committee or to be involved in the preparation of evidence, you may not want to attend these events (however all are welcome!). Furthermore, as each session will be the same rather than CFA specific, if you are unable to attend on one date, you can attend an alternative date instead.

The table below shows the dates, times and venues for these meetings. If any meetings fill up we will endeavour to provide an additional meeting for that area. Registration is essential so we know how many people to expect. Please email HS2Blueprint@buckscc.gov.uk to book your place.

CFA Date Time Venue
12 26th November 6.30pm Quainton memorial hall
11 27th November 6.30pm County Hall, Aylesbury
10 2nd December 6.30pm St Anne’s Hall, Wendover
9 3rd December 2.30pm Ballinger War Memorial Hall , Ballinger Common, Ballinger
9 3rd December 6.30pm Ballinger War Memorial Hall , Ballinger Common, Ballinger
7 and 8 4th December 6.30pm Amersham Community Centre
13 and 14

10th December

6.30pm Botolph Claydon Village Hall

We are also currently planning ‘drop-in’ sessions with members of the HS2 Project team, an ‘Introduction to HS2’ series and other events so hopefully over the next few months there will be something to suit everyone. All information will be distributed via the e-update.

Buckinghamshire petitioners

At the HS2 Summit it was agreed that we would analyse all deposited petitions to help identify potential groupings ahead of Buckinghamshire Select Committee hearings. We have now identified all petitions from Buckinghamshire (1004) which account for 52% of all petitions deposited. We have also identified which Community Forum Area each petition comes from and will be looking to share this data with Parish Councils, Town Councils and key stakeholders via email next week. We continue to analyse some of the larger shared petition points. Thank you to all of those who sent in data they had gathered.

Buckinghamshire Compensation and Mitigation Panel (BCMP)

Thank you to those who have responded to the section in our previous e-update regarding the BCMP. We will be in touch again soon regarding membership and meeting dates.

Select Committee visit to Buckinghamshire

On the 13 October the Select Committee Chairman opened hearings by stating that it is unlikely that the Select Committee will visit Buckinghamshire until after next spring (full transcript at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/hs2/oral-evidence/131014_PM_Uncorrected.pdf). As Buckinghamshire petitioners will not be heard until after the site visit, this suggests that petitioners may have slightly more time to prepare than previously expected. A site visit after spring would also be beneficial due to the longer daylight hours and possibly better weather compared to a winter visit.

Although this was a reassuring statement, there is no guarantee that this will not change, and therefore we continue to prepare for an earlier appearance.

Select Committee scheduling

On the 13 October, the Chairman also stated that both Staffordshire County Council and Lichfield, who were due to appear on the 14 October, would not appear on that date. This was due to a number of successful negotiations and assurances made. Tim Mould QC stated that both petitioners will be able to appear at a later date if they choose to.

Agreements reached include:

  • Lowering the alignment of the railway near the village of Hints.
  • Lowering the line so that instead of going over the A38, West Coast Mainline and South Staffordshire line, it will pass under them.
  • Altering the alignment of the railway horizontally and vertically so that it avoids crossing the Trent and Mersey Canal twice.
  • Guarantee that the link to the West Coast Mainline will be constructed as part of the main railway works and that the line north of Birmingham will not be operated until the link is also open.

Tunnelling presentation

On the 20 October the Select Committee heard a presentation on tunnelling. Tim Smart, Head of Engineering at HS2 Ltd explained that tunnelling was very much a last resort. However there were three main reasons when tunnelling would be considered:

  • Where achieving a satisfactory alignment was not possible due to the terrain.
  • Where surface disruption was so great tunnelling became cost effective.
  • When a surface tunnel would severely sever a community.

Mr Smart also covered construction, tunnelling techniques, noise and vibration and cost. The transcript of the presentation can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/hs2/oral-evidence/201014_Uncorrected_AM.pdf(starting on page 26).

House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has begun to hear oral evidence regarding the economic case for HS2. The Committee will hear evidence from a range of witnesses including transport and economic experts.

Issues already raised include that time saving should be based on door to door rather than station to station; the fact that HS2 is likely to have to charge a premium for ticket prices; the lack of strategic planning; lack of evidence that the proposal will address the North-South divide; the fact that demand tends to be over-estimated and cost under-estimated; and that smaller schemes could represent better value for money.

Cllr Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council and Chairman of 51m has been asked to give evidence regarding the economic case. He will appear on the 4 November at 4.15pm.

All evidence submitted can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/lords-committees/economic-affairs/Economic-case-for-HS2/HS2-Online-Evidence-Volume.pdf, and the inquiry can be watched at http://file://buckscc/bcc_net/Place/High%20Speed%202/High%20Speed%202/Communmity.Member…tions/E-Updates/here.

Petitioners to watch in late October / November

It is a good idea to visit the Select Committee and see for yourself what it is like and the types of questions petitioners are asked. The programme for October and November can be found at https://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/hs2/HS2_Committee_Forward_programme_%20Oct_Nove.pdf but it is subject to change. The following petitioners may be worth a visit, or if you cannot attend you can watch the Select Committee online at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Home.aspx.

Petition Issue Petitioners to watch
Noise North Warwickshire Borough Council, 27th, 29th, 29th October
Ecological standards Warwickshire County Council, 27th, 28th, 29th October
North Warwickshire Borough Council, 27th, 29th, 29th October
Business rate relief/ impact on businesses Warwickshire County Council, 27th, 28th, 29th October
North Warwickshire Borough Council, 27th, 29th, 29th October
Route alignment North Warwickshire Borough Council, 27th, 29th, 29th October
Water Orton Primary School, 29th October
Transport impacts/ construction routes Warwickshire County Council, 27th, 28th, 29th October
Water Orton Primary School, 29th October
Mr and Mrs Strachan , 30th October
Public Rights of Way North Warwickshire Borough Council, 27th, 29th, 29th October
Air quality North Warwickshire Borough Council, 27th, 29th, 29th October
Design standards North Warwickshire Borough Council, 27th, 29th, 29th October
Excavated material North Warwickshire Borough Council, 27th, 29th, 29th October
Water resource/ flood risk North Warwickshire Borough Council, 27th, 29th, 29th October
Working hours Robert and Afsaneh Eades, 3rd November
Noise/ vibration mitigation Robert and Afsaneh Eades, 3rd November
Jonathon and Elaine Loescher, 3rd November

Also, we have spotted that Drayton Bassett Parish Council appeared with another petitioner. Petitioners who are considering grouping together for appearance may find it interesting to see how the Chair and HS2 Ltd introduce this in the transcript. See page 33 of the transcript at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/hs2/oral-evidence/211014_Uncorrected_Am.pdf.

Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF)

The Government has announced that two funds worth up to £30m are to be made available for communities and businesses along the phase one route of HS2. The Community and Environment Fund (CEF) and the Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF) are additional to the compensation packages and will look to invest in public projects such as nature conservation and the refurbishment of local community centres.

The figure announced is a huge disappointment for Buckinghamshire councils, who were hoping for a figure closer to £230m, which is equivalent to approximately £1m per km. We are currently considering how to influence this figure and administration of the schemes.

The Wildlife Trust – “ a greener vision for HS2”.

The Wildlife Trust has produced a document looking at large-scale nature restoration along the proposed route. This considers the impacts of the line on both wildlife and communities, and mitigation that could be put into place to reduce this. The document can be found at http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/sites/default/files/files/TWT%20HS2%20Greener%20Vision%20Spreads.pdf, and petitioners may wish to refer to this document when presenting their case to the Select Committee.

Investment in the national transport infrastructure
In his recent speech about investment in national transport infrastructure, Robert Goodwill MP stated that ‘…in just 3 years’ time, subject to Royal Assent, we will begin building HS2.’ This suggests that the Government hope to get through both House of Commons and House of Lords within a three year time scale. The full speech can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/investment-in-the-national-transport-infrastructure

CCB Health and Wellbeing Assessment – now on 51m website

We have previously mentioned the Health and Wellbeing Pilot Study conducted by a number of residents in the Chilterns AONB. This study is now available online and can be found at https://www.51m.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/CCB-Health-and-Wellbeing-Pilot-Study.pdf. If you would like any further information on this study please contact Sandra MacDonald (sandra.macdonald@homecall.co.uk).

Summit presentations – pdf

In our previous update we linked to the presentations from our Summit on October 8th. HS2 Amersham Action Group has kindly split the presentations into pdf documents for anyone who does not have PowerPoint and could not open the documents. These can be found at http://www.hs2amersham.org.uk/index.html?Resources/Petitions/Bucks_141008/index.htm.

Buckinghamshire County Council – Budget Consultation

You all play such a key role in your communities that I would urge you to input your views on Buckinghamshire County Council’s budget consultation. The deadline for comments is 9 November and involves a short, 10 minute survey. Please click here to complete the survey.

Buckinghamshire County Council HS2 team:

Jackie Copcutt jcopcutt@buckscc.gov.ukTel: 01296 383793
Alex Day alexday@buckscc.gov.uk Tel: 01296 382409
HS2 Blueprint Mailbox HS2Blueprint@buckscc.gov.uk
BCC HS2 Webpages: http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/environment/hs2/