HS2 – October 2020

A letter from our MP
Following a couple of meetings with Rob Butler MP I was concerned that he just didn’t get the level of support for the Wendover Mined Tunnel project in the Wendover community and in the Wendover Parish Council (WPC). I also felt, and others agreed with me, that he wasn’t questioning government sufficiently for Wendover, when it comes to HS2. I thought it only fair to share my findings with him.

To give our new MP a heads up I wrote to Rob on 29 July. I have put his reply on the WPC website at www.wendover-pc.gov.uk/post/a-letter-from-rob-butler-mp-to-wendover-parish-council-hs2. If you read it you will see that the attached letter from the Minister contains all of the oft repeated mistakes and unsupported statements that we’ve seen before from Government. For context my letter to Rob is appendix 1 on the online document.

The WPC HS2 working group is disappointed by Rob’s letter. We keep Rob informed on our campaign. I have tried to show him the strength of our community support. So it is disappointing that he is reluctant to help Wendover as we would like.

So for the first time we will be going forward without our MP. That’s a problem because a local campaign not supported by the local MP is weakened. Which is sad, because the WPC and I believe the Wendover Community are strongly supportive of seeking the best mitigation for Wendover and that you are behind us as we fight for the Mined Tunnel option.

Lord Berkeley’s letter to the HS2 Minister
Lord Berkeley is a great supporter of our Mined Tunnel campaign. He has been questioning government on Wendover’s behalf and has written a letter to Andrew Stephenson, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, that strongly supports our campaign for better mitigation and questions the minister on statements in his letter to Rob Butler MP. I know that I’m beginning to sound like an advert for the WPC website but you can read Lord Berkeley’s letter there along with loads of HS2 stuff.

Noise & Hydrogeology: Two big issues that are solved by the Mined Tunnel
Though we’re pushing hard we still haven’t seen the latest modelled noise calculations for Wendover. They appear to be stalled somewhere between HS2 Ltd and EKFB the contractor. They are an essential part of any Schedule 17 planning application that HS2 bring forward so both WPC and Bucks Council, the Local Planning Authority (LPA), are keen to see them. Hydrogeology is still a major concern. HS2 and EKFB are expected to carry out investigation works soon. WPC & Wendover HS2 are working with the Environment Agency and Bucks Council to ensure that these investigations are adequate.

Hillingdon and beyond
The general consensus on the recent Hillingdon judgement seems to be that HS2 is now expected to give LPAs all of the information relating to Schedule 17 planning applications at or before application. This will undoubtedly mean a lot more work for HS2 Ltd and its contractors and a change in the organisation’s rather detail resistant culture. It also means that LPAs have to consider all of the information. Be in no doubt, the big well funded HS2 juggernaut is going to put an enormous burden on the under-funded LPAs. It will be for us, all of us who want HS2 to meet all of its obligations, to ensure that the LPAs do a good job when considering HS2 planning applications.

Tom Walsh