HS2 and Me – January 2021
A story from Nash Lee
(about a mile from Wendover)
So far, just a few people in the Wendover area have been directly affected by HS2, mostly farmers. Once serious construction starts, we are all going to be affected. This story began in early 2019.
There were already several other points of contention with HS2 plans at Nash Lee, but HS2 had not previously mentioned this one. Suddenly, someone decided that it was very urgent to check on the structural integrity of a National Grid pylon. This pylon had not moved 1 mm in the 60+ years of its existence, but now looking in detail at the foundations was of great urgency. Instead of trying to reach agreement over access and timing, HS2 decided that since Parliament had granted them the Power to Possess land temporarily, they would insist on using that legal power. They would not listen to the fact that they only needed 0.5 acre of land, but insisted on possessing 7 acres. That possession caused the maximum inconvenience possible for farming the 90+ % of the holding on the other side of the 7 acres. HS2 promised that they would take possession for less than 1 year.
They eventually took possession in early November 2019, despite the option to do the work in the dry weather of September.Remember, this investigation was supposed to be urgent and on a critical path for other work! They chose the wettest month (February 2020) of the wettest winter in recorded history to move heavy equipment onto the site. HS2 Contractors were actually on site for less than five full days, and occupied just 0.5 acre of the 7 acres possessed. They dug two very large holes in the soil, to access the foundations of the pylon. The concrete down there turned out to be exceedingly hard, and they failed to get a proper core sample. In their unsuccessful attempt to get a sample, they burned out the motor of a coring machine.
Was this work at all necessary? NO!
After well in excess of a year now, HS2 still have possession, indicating little sign of giving up possession. During their almost five days on site, they managed to damage one or more land drains, because of choosing such a poor time of the year to do the work. Now that winter is here again, water escapes onto Nash Lee Road. The risk of ice forming and accidents on such a busy hospital feeder road ought to be obvious – even to HS2. But they do nothing to effect repairs themselves, or to hand back possession for others to solve the problem.
HS2 is set to cost eye-watering amounts of money, that we and our children will end up paying for. Small incidents like this case will occur throughout the project. No wonder that the HS2 project is set to cost such staggering amounts of money.
Is HS2 a competent organisation? Does HS2 take its responsibilities seriously? NO!
Complaints have been made to HS2 Ltd, and referred on to the DfT.
Does the DfT do anything? NO!
Our local MP has written to the HS2 Minister, that same HS2 Minister who has sworn to improve the way HS2 behaves.We shall see what the HS2 Minister actually does about the situation.
There is now talk of handing back the land in January but the new delay is that HS2 hasn’t yet devised a plan to do this!!!
In addition, Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) has now proved that the HS2 work has also damaged a Thames Water Sewage pipe! There are plans to make temporary repairs to divert water away from Nash Lee Road, and repair the sewage pipe. The UK Construction Industry has a 2+ week break over Christmas, so before Christmas or January???