HS2 Update 3 Apr 2015

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/)

This update looks at the first of the Buckinghamshire hearings that took place in March as well as the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee report on the economic case for HS2.

Select Committee update (correct at 2 April 2015)

From the 3rd March to the 23rd March 2015 the HS2 Select Committee heard from petitioners in the Colne Valley. Various topics were covered including London Borough of Hillingdon’s proposed tunnel, noise from the Colne Valley viaduct, ecology and mitigation, traffic concerns and rights of way issues. The local authorities are due to appear after the General Election and will look to build on the evidence already presented to the Select Committee.

The Select Committee has released its first Special Report of Session 2014-15 which can be found here. We recommend all petitioners read this document. Some highlights of the report are:

  • The Select Committee set out advice for petitioners: being concise, not taking above 30mins in your presentation and keeping your slide show relatively short (24 slides are recommended).
  • They want to see the ‘Need to Sell scheme’ working correctly before the end of the Select Committee hearings; if this is not the case they will look again at compensation.
  • They reserve judgement on Colne Valley issues as they are only part way through hearings and the issues are connected to the Chilterns hearings.
  • On noise, they do not want to hear from individual petitioners on the World Health Organisations guidelines; they would rather comparisons from HS2 or actual measurements were presented.
  • They recommend that in the Chilterns area, petitioners group together, stating “arguments made once or twice are more powerful than those made several hundred times over”

Select Committee Visits to Buckinghamshire

There are now three provisional dates for the Select Committee visits to Buckinghamshire. These are broken down by MP constituency as follows:

  • 20 May, Cheryl Gillan MP (Amersham Constituency including CFAs 8 and 9),
  • 21 May, David Lidington MP (Aylesbury Constituency including CFAs 10 and 11)
  • 22 May, John Bercow MP (Buckingham Constituency including CFAs 12, 13 and 14)

BCC will be working with members of the Buckinghamshire Compensation and Mitigation Panel (BCMP) in order to achieve a co-ordinated and successful visit. BCMP members will be asked to work with BCC and the Districts to produce useful handouts, suggest speakers at each stop and find ways to visualise the route.

House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee Report

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee has released its report on the economic case for HS2 which can be found in full at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/ldeconaf/134/134.pdf. The conclusion of the Committee is that the government has not made a convincing case for HS2. Chair of the Lords’ Committee, Lord Hollick, stated that,

the government has not carried out a proper assessment of whether alternative ways of increasing capacity are more cost-effective than HS2.

This argument was echoed by Labour peer and committee member, Lord McFall, who stated that

if we're going to rebalance the economy, then we must have a fundamental appraisal of the impact in the north, and that hasn't taken place to date.

In response, the Department for Transport stated that,

demand for long distance rail travel has doubled in the past 15 years… it is crucial we press ahead with delivering HS2 on time and budget and we remain on track to start construction in 2017.

The committee has asked a number of formal questions to the government including:

  • In the absence of a co-ordinated transport plan, how can the government be sure that HS2 is the best way to achieve the project’s objectives?
  • What measures will be taken to limit the cost of constructing HS2?
  • How does the high level of taxpayer subsidy of HS2 fit with the government’s commitment to reduce the level of subsidy of the UK rail network?
  • Is HS2 the best way to address the problems which currently exist?
  • Should improving regional rail links in the north be prioritised ahead of building HS2 Phase One?
  • What effect will the findings of the research commissioned on values of time have on the cost-benefit analysis of HS2?

Cultural Heritage and HS2 (Bucks Archaeological Society Event)

Following a successful public open day last autumn, which the Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society arranged at the site of Stoke Mandeville’s old church and graveyard (which under current plans would be entirely removed by construction of HS2), the Society has now arranged a day conference on HS2 and Buckinghamshire’s heritage. This will be on Saturday 16 May 2015, starting at 9.10am and ending at 5pm.

Apart from substantial areas of historic landscape, the line would remove, among other locations: deposits that have previously produced Ice Age mammal remains, part of Grim’s Ditch – an Iron Age boundary, a section of a small Roman town fronting Akeman Street and the adjoining medieval settlement area of Fleet Marston, a large slice of the former medieval village of Doddershall, and land adjacent to the former Chetwode Priory which probably includes an early watermill site.

Ten specialists will examine the impact that construction would have. Threat or opportunity? will be the issue addressed, since if destruction does become inevitable, as some compensation at least, detailed advance investigation of such sites would potentially increase our understanding of the county’s past.

The conference will be at Weston Turville village hall. Advance ticket purchase is necessary; the cost is £10 for admission or £16 to include a buffet lunch. Tickets are available by post from Buckinghamshire Archaeological Society, c/o County Museum Church Street, Aylesbury HP20 2QP; cheques payable to the society, or by purchase at the County Museum. See http://www.bucksas.org.uk for further details. A flyer with form incorporated is on the News page of this web site at https://www.amershamsociety.org/news/.

HS2 Fly-through

The MPs of Buckinghamshire have had a response from the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, regarding the HS2 fly-through which has been used in multiple Select Committee hearings. The letter states HS2 Ltd are working on changing this fly-through to make it suitable for publication. It also states that HS2 Ltd have been showing petitioners the video at their homes to assist them for their appearances. Details on who to contact to view the fly-through are at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hs2-phase-one-fly-through.

HS2 Design Vision

HS2 Ltd has produced a document called the HS2 Design Vision which can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/415479/HS2_Design__vision.pdf. The document sets out principles for the design of the scheme such as to be “designed to stand the test of time” and being “designed for a sense of place.”
The HS2 design panel will be headed by Sadie Morgan. She will lead the body that will oversee the design of High Speed Two. On taking up her position Ms Morgan stated “great design is integral to making sure that HS2 achieves its full potential, from the beginning to the end of the journey. This includes not only landscape and station design but the entire passenger experience.” An interesting article is athttp://www.infrastructure-intelligence.com/article/mar-2015/tunnel-vision-joy-infrastructure

Photographs of areas affected

We are currently looking to collect photographs of affected areas to publish on our website. These will be to add to petitioners’ presentations if required. If you have photographs of specific affected areas that you would like to share please email them to HS2Blueprint@buckscc.gov.uk

Thank you to those who have sent photographs through already these and general information on petitioning are now available on our website at http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/environment/hs2/petitioning/

As well as this, photographs are available from the Amersham Action group at http://www.hs2amersham.org.uk/index.html?Resources/HybridBill/Petitioning/Presentations/index.htm and https://www.flickr.com/groups/chilterns-vs-hs2/. These will be linked to our website in the near future.

Buckinghamshire Compensation and Mitigation Panel (BCMP)

The Buckinghamshire Mitigation and Compensation Panel (BCMP) met on Thursday 2 April. This group provides a forum for communities to voice concerns on HS2 issues and for the Council to feedback information to the communities. On the 2nd we focused on the Select Committee Visit update and planning and petitioning/strategy. We will distribute full minutes to BCMP members ASAP.

Each CFA area has a community representative on the panel who should be feeding back discussions had at BCMP. If you would like to know who your representative is, please let us know. Local County Councillors are also invited.

Buckinghamshire County Council HS2 Staff Update

As most of you will be aware, Darl Sweetland has joined the HS2 Project team as a Lead Officer. Alex Day’s last day will be 23rd April; she will be focusing on highways issues with other petition topics handed over to Darl.

Buckinghamshire County Council HS2 team:

Jackie Copcutt jcopcutt@buckscc.gov.uk Tel: 01296 383793
Alex Day alexday@buckscc.gov.uk Tel: 01296 382409
Darl Sweetland dsweetland@bucksccc.gov.ukTel: 01296 383463
HS2 Blueprint Mailbox HS2Blueprint@buckscc.gov.uk
BCC HS2 Webpages: http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/environment/hs2/