We have received the following update from the Buckinghamshire County Council HS2 team, with a further update about the time and place of meetings on 4th July.
HS2 Ltd has now released the list of petitioners whose locus standi will be challenged, meaning that all other petitioners will potentially have the opportunity to appear before the Select Committee. The dates for appearances in September are expected to be released in July, although it is unlikely that petitioners in Buckinghamshire will be heard as early as September. Despite the uncertainty over when we will appear, we will be providing community support from early July, and this support will continue leading up to appearance before the Select Committee. This update will provide information on the community support we will be providing, as well as information on evidence collection, and the Government’s response to the Environmental Select Committee.
As we have mentioned in previous updates, we are planning on holding a number of community support events leading up to the Select Committee. The first of these will be a number of local area meetings. The purpose of these will be to discuss local petitioning points, including those submitted by Buckinghamshire County Council, local groups and individuals. This should ensure we are accurately reflecting local concerns, and any conflicts are identified as soon as possible. We will also provide an update on progress to date, as well as information on the future support we intend to provide, including evidence collection and mock Select Committee workshops. The following dates are now confirmed for the initial set of local meeting:
|Date||Meeting||Venue & time|
|7th July||BCC Colne valley, the Chalfonts and Amersham HS2 meeting||Chiltern District Council Offices, King George V House, King George V Road, Amersham, Buckinghamshire, HP6 5AW; 6.30 – 8.30 pm|
|9th July||BCC Central Chilterns HS2 meeting||Chiltern District Council Offices, King George V House, King George V Road, Amersham, Buckinghamshire, HP6 5AW; 6.30 – 8.30 pm|
|10th July||BCC Dunsmore, Wendover and Halton HS2 meeting||Buckinghamshire County Council, Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1UA; 6.15 – 8.0 pm|
|17th July||BCC Stoke Mandeville and Aylesbury HS2 meeting||Buckinghamshire County Council, Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1UA; 6.15 – 8.0 pm|
|21st July||BCC Waddesdon and Quainton HS2 meeting||Buckinghamshire County Council, Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1UA; 6.15 – 8.0 pm|
|22nd July||BCC Calvert to Brackley HS2 meeting||Twyford Village Hall, Portway Road Twyford, Buckingham, Buckinghamshire MK18 4EE; 6.30 – 8.30 pm|
Please be aware that space is limited so booking is essential. If you would like to register to attend please email: HS2Blueprint@buckscc.gov.uk. Places will be allocated on a first come first serve basis, and once we have a list of attendees, further details will be circulated.
We have had a number of emails from petitioners requesting evidence in preparation for the Select Committee process. As mentioned previously, we intend on holding a number of evidence collection workshops, each focussing on a specific topic. We do not yet have dates for these workshops, as these will depend on when Buckinghamshire residents will appear before the Select Committee. However, we will ensure these workshops are held well in advance of appearances. We are using the time we have now to ensure we have the highest quality and most recent evidence to share with you. As soon as dates have been set we will share these with you via these updates.
Unfortunately, we will not be able to share evidence before then as we are currently in the process of compiling the evidence we have, collecting evidence we do not yet have, and ensuring evidence is in the most appropriate format to distribute. In the meantime, we will use the local area meetings (details above) to listen to what evidence you would like, and how you would like to receive this.
Please be aware that petitioners will be heard in the following order: County, District, Parish and Town Councils, community groups, other public bodies, businesses and individuals. Therefore, if a petitioning point is raised by a County or District council, groups and individuals will only have to appear before the Select Committee if they have anything additional to add. As a result, it is likely that petitioners with petitioning points in line with those of the County/ District councils will not have to appear as their points will have already have been raised.
Locus standi challenge
The Government has now released a list of the 24 petitioners whose locus standi will be challenged. The full list can be found at http://www.parliament.uk/documents/commons-committees/hs2/Locus_objection_11099_00093_230614131248_docx_(2)_pdf.pdf with notable inclusions being HS2 Action Alliance Limited and Stop HS2. Petitioners whose standi has been challenged will have the opportunity to challenge this during mid-July, and the promoters will also have the opportunity to state their case.
The test to determine locus standi is whether a petitioner’s property or interests are directly and specifically affected by the Bill. This is obvious for owners of land subject to compulsory acquisition. However, when a petitioner’s property or interests are away from the line but subject to the effects of construction for example, it can be less clear. It seems that in this case, some petitioners have been granted locus standi whereas others have not. The Select Committee will have the job of deciding which of these petitioners should be heard, and which will not be heard.
The Secretary of State for Transport has issued updated and revised safeguarding directions for HS2 Phase 1, to more closely reflect the proposals contained in the Hybrid Bill. Safeguarding directions aim to ensure that land associated with the project is protected from conflicting development before construction starts. This is achieved by requiring local planning authorities to consult with HS2 Ltd before granting planning permission on safeguarded land.
The safeguarding directions also enable those who own property within the safeguarding area to request that the government purchases their property, providing certain conditions are met. In the case of HS2, the Express Purchase Scheme (information at http://www.hs2.org.uk/developing-hs2/property/express-purchase) extends the normal rights.
For areas of land removed from the safeguarding area by the new safeguarding directions, the Express Purchase Scheme will remain available to owners of properties in that area for a further 5 years. However this does not apply to properties along the formally proposed HS1- HS2 link.
HS2 Ltd will be writing to all known property and land owners within the relevant areas. However further information can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/safeguarding-directions.
HS2’s environmental protections
On the 18 June the Government responded to the Environmental Audit Committee’s comments made earlier in the year. Key points include:
- The Government rejects the Committee’s call for more ambitious objectives than ‘no net biodiversity loss’. They state that achieving no-net loss is very challenging, and therefore this level of ambition is appropriate.
- The Government rejects the Committee’s call for the ES to be revised to clearly distinguish between ‘mitigation’ and ‘compensation’. The Government states that these terms have been used correctly, although further clarification will be provided in an information note.
- The Committee called for HS2 Ltd to carry out outstanding surveys as soon as possible. The Government response states that the environmental assessment took account of a broad evidence base in order to inform the baseline. They also state that further surveying will be undertaken when additional access becomes available.
- The Committee called for a 60 year monitoring process to be established, managed by an independent body, as well as a ring-fenced budget to cover environmental protection. The Government states that The Environmental Memorandum includes an appropriate monitoring regime, and habitats will be monitored and managed for an ‘appropriate period’. They go on to say that they will ‘consider further’ the options for Natural England or local authorities to be involved in the monitoring scheme. However, they reject calls for a ring-fenced budget for environmental protection.
Further information can be found at https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/environmental-audit-committee/news/hs2governmentresponsepublication/. Many of the points made by the Select Committee are also raised in our petition and we will continue to support these.
Petition Response Documents
In our last update we wrote that HS2 Ltd were planning on sending Petition Response Documents (PRDs) electronically using Egress, which petitioners would have to sign-up to in order to access their PRDs. The Select Committee strongly urged HS2 Ltd to provide an alternative method in which petitioners could access these documents. In response, HS2 Ltd has scrapped the sign-up system, and will now rely on email and post.
We have previously brought your attention to the information papers that HS2 Ltd continue to publish, which are intended to be ‘user friendly’ and provide information on different aspects of the project. The Government intends to use these papers as ways of giving commitments and assurances; to confirm their position on issues; and to take into account issues raised in petitions. Therefore, they will be updated and added to as the Government takes account of petitions, and it is likely that Petition Response Documents will refer you to relevant information papers.
Although new information papers have been added and others updated, there has been no publicity of these changes, and there are now almost 70 papers. Therefore it is worth keeping an eye on these, which can be found at http://www.hs2.org.uk/hs2-phase-one-hybrid-bill/hybrid-bill/ajax/687/nojs.