HS2 Limited agree additional funds and mitigation for Buckinghamshire

The hard-won concessions were put forward on 20 January in a late offer from HS2 Ltd, when Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) was back in front of the Commons HS2 Select Committee.

The County Council, working with district and parish councils, had made submissions to the Select Committee in October, which won mitigation measures for damage and disruption the high-speed rail line is expected to cause. These included flood alleviation and monitoring measures, rights-of-way changes, school and public transport concessions, a pledge to recycle 95% of construction, demolition and excavationwaste, and the removal of two controversial spoil dump sites from the plan.

Since then the County Council has been in tough negotiations with HS2 Ltd to secure measures required to further mitigate the damage and disruption that will be caused by the HS2 project.

Now, in addition, it has secured the major financial package, including £1 million for additional local mitigation and community use in the Steeple Claydon and Calvert areas. The concessions alsoallow the County Council to put forward an alternative toa controversial ‘haul’ road for HS2 construction traffic at Great Missenden. At Iver, HS2 has agreed to work with other major rail and road schemes to minimise damage and disruption.

One key area could not be agreed, according to Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire County Council: the County Council remains convinced that a fully bored tunnel through the Chilterns remains the best solution for Wendover and the AONB, a measure for which the Select Committee is not yet convinced by the evidence.

The Select Committee has asked HS2 to look at extending a ‘green tunnel’ near Wendover, but Martin said the County Council believed HS2 had not yet adequately met the Select Committee’s request. In particular, he said, the Council did not believe a convincing package of mitigation measures had been proposed to deal with anticipated noise problems for St Mary’s Church, The Chiltern Way Federation Wendover Campus School and residents to the north of Wendover.

Details of the final mitigation offer from HS2:

  • A further contribution of £480,000 has been secured for safety measures along the A4010 (Risborough-Aylesbury road) and A4129 (Risborough-Thame road) where these are to be used as a HS2 construction route.
  • The council also expressed concern that the Stoke Mandeville Bypass between the B4443 Lower Road and the A4010 Risborough Road will worsen traffic along the B4443 Lower Road and the Aylesbury Gyratory. HS2 Ltd has now agreed to fund BCC £150,000 toward the cost of the council undertaking transport modelling to establish the design of an extension to the Bypass.
  • HS2 Ltd will contribute the full cost of bridging the Aylesbury to Marylebone railway line.
  • HS2 Ltd has also agreed to fund £470,000 for a walking and cycling route along the realigned A4010 Stoke Mandeville Bypass.
  • The council also asked HS2 Ltd to provide an underpass on the Risborough to Aylesbury line and to secure the Network Rail approvals, which would then allow the council to construct a road, as part of an around Aylesbury network, in the future.
  • BCC also asked for funding towards additional CCTV cameras to link to its Automated Traffic Information System (ATIS) to help monitor and manage congestion in urban areas. HS2 Ltd has agreed to make available funding of £300,000.
  • The council also requested public access to land in south west Aylesbury in order to meet its aspiration of an Aylesbury Linear Park. A financial contribution of £500,000 has been offered by HS2 Ltd.
  • The proposed major Infrastructure Maintenance Depot (IMD) at Steeple Claydon and Calvert is a particular concern for the council. HS2 Ltd recognises that the construction and operation needs to be managed carefully in close consultation with the local councils and the local community. HS2 Ltd has agreed to provide a £1m fund, in addition to agreed mitigation measures for the area.
  • The council also raised the proposed increased car parking provision at the IMD and HS2 Ltd has said it will aim to reduce the size of this at the detailed design stage.
  • The council also asked for the provision of a surfaced cycle-way at Calvert, which has been agreed.

Two major issues dominated the negotiations and were particularly tough to reach agreement on:

  • The council expressed concern regarding the impacts on Iver village, not only from HS2 but also from other major transport schemes in the area, making even worse the existing Heavy Goods Vehicle congestion. HS2 eventually agreed it would work with the other transport projects and each would make a ‘proportionate contribution’ towards mitigation measures. These would be based on a ‘Transport Appraisal’ to be funded by HS2. The County Council believes that an Iver Relief Road may provide the solution and HS2 Ltd has offered to meet up to £1,420,000 of future potential costs.
  • Local communities in Great Missenden and Prestwood expressed their concerns to the council about the proposal to provide a haul road for construction traffic from the Link Road roundabout on the A413. The council asked that an alternative haul road be provided further north. HS2 Ltd has agreed to this, subject to the council securing the necessary consents and that any alternative proposal doesn’t increase the cost.

Martin said, “While we are obviously disappointed at not yet convincing the Select Committee of the need for a fully bored tunnel through the Chilterns, I do think we have secured some real wins for Bucks. There is good news for Great Missenden with the prospect of the haul road being moved and for Steeple Claydon with the removal of the spoil tip and moving of rail sidings, and an extra £1m for the community to spend in the local area. Along the route we have made significant gains and I am proud of the way that parish, town, district and county councils have worked together to win these hard-fought concessions.”