HS2 Update for August 2010
High-speed rail route to be reviewed
Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, has confirmed that he intends to review in detail the recommended route of HS2, the proposed high-speed rail line between London and Birmingham, before a public consultation takes place. The consultation, originally planned for autumn 2010, is now likely to take place in early 2011. Mr. Hammond has asked HS2 Ltd., the company charged with considering the case and route options for high-speed rail, to develop options for a direct high-speed link to Heathrow and to assess the options for linking HS2 to HS1, the Channel Tunnel rail link. In a separate development, the Chancellor, George Osborne, has ordered the Treasury to review all capital spending projects, including proposed transport programmes, with the intention that only those demonstrating a significant economic return to the country should be taken forward.
Wendover HS2 participated in a summit on the economic arguments for and against high-speed rail in Aylesbury on 18 June. Campaigners and county and district councillors opposed to the current plans came together with rail and business experts to discuss the business case put forward by HS2 Ltd. for a high-speed line. A paper setting out alternatives to the current proposals was presented by the HS2 Action Alliance. John Savin from Wendover HS2’s Business Working Group gave a presentation on ‘Heathrow and the West London Connection’, which you can download here (PDF file, 563KB). Wendover HS2’s working groups are continuing to analyse the business case for the high-speed rail network, alternative routes and the environmental impact of the plans, and to work closely with other action groups in preparation for the formal consultation. We are seeking additional experts who can help us analyse the data. If you can help, please contact John Savin on 07774 831 967 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Wendover HS2 held a drop-in day at Wendover Library on 5 June for residents to see how HS2 would affect Wendover and the surrounding area. Members of the Strategic Committee, including local Councillors and Wendover Society members, were on hand to answer questions, and detailed maps of the route were on display. Maps and other material will be displayed in a case outside Wendover Library from mid-July.
Wendover HS2 plans to take its petition against the high-speed rail plans door-to-door over the coming weeks, to enable people who have not yet signed it to do so. It will then be presented at 10 Downing Street. If you could offer a few hours of your time to help collect signatures, please email Murray Cooke at wendoverHS2@btinternet.com.
The Government’s consultation on a proposed Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) closed on 17 June. The Scheme proposes to protect the interests of residential owner-occupiers who may be affected by the preferred route and who can demonstrate that they have an urgent need to sell their property before the route is decided upon. Wendover HS2’s response to the consultation can be seen here.
We will shortly be launching a fundraising campaign to create a ‘fighting fund’ to oppose the current HS2 proposals. More details will be announced soon.
Members of the Community Working Group will be manning a stall in the market in Wendover on Thursday 22 July to answer residents’ questions about the HS2 proposals.
How you can help
If you feel strongly about plans to run the high-speed rail line through the Chilterns, please write to the Prime Minister and to Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA with your views. You may wish to ask them if they want to be remembered as the Government that destroyed the Chilterns for future generations, how we can afford to build the line, and what the implications are for other regions’ transport plans if all the money gets diverted into HS2, or perhaps you would like to ask them for a full public inquiry into a project of this magnitude.