HS2 Update for September 2010
High-speed rail update
Since the Wendover HS2 August email newsletter was dispatched, there have been new developments on two of the items covered.
1) Exceptional Hardship Scheme
This scheme has now been launched. Guidance notes and some Frequently Asked Questions are available on HS2 Ltd.’s website, at http://www.hs2.org.uk/exceptional-hardship-scheme?pageid=1
2) Government’s Spending Challenge Website
After being temporarily closed, the site has been relaunched, at http://spendingchallenge.hm-treasury.gov.uk/
The Treasury is now inviting people to register and rate the ideas that have been put forward for saving money. Many of the transport ideas relate to HS2. You can view these and rate them by following the link at the bottom of the page to Transport ideas, or by searching the site for “high speed rail”. It appears the site will be closing again at the end of August so there are not many days in which to do this.
Exceptional Hardship Scheme
Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, has announced the introduction of an Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS) to help people who are having difficulty selling their property because of HS2 and who can demonstrate that they have an urgent need to sell before a final decision has been reached about the route. The scheme, launched on 20 August, is open to residential owner-occupiers and owner-occupiers of agricultural units and business premises with an annual rateable value not exceeding £34,800 in the vicinity of the ‘preferred’ route (this is the route that runs along the edge of Wendover). It is limited to those who have a pressing need to sell and who would otherwise experience exceptional hardship, and will allow those people to apply for their properties to be bought by the Secretary of State for Transport.
Full details of the application process were unavailable as Wendover News went to press but will be published by the Government on 20 August and made available to residents via www.wendoverhs2.org and in information packs at Wendover Library and in the Clocktower. The announcement follows a consultation on the proposed EHS, which received 4520 responses (at least 870 from people in Aylesbury Vale district). Following the consultation, the scope of the EHS has been extended to include agricultural and some commercial units, properties recently inherited following a bereavement, and those over tunnelled areas when the property is close to the proposed tunnel entrance or exit.
The following as some useful links for further information relating to the topic.
Philip Hammond’s written statement can be found at the following address: http://www.dft.gov.uk/press/speechesstatements/statements/hammond20100726
Department for Transport’s Frequently Asked Questions about the EHS: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail/exceptionalhardshipscheme/faqs/
Analysis of responses to the consultation: http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/rail/pi/highspeedrail/exceptionalhardshipscheme/analysisofresponses/
Councillors visit High Speed 1 in Kent
Buckinghamshire councillors went on a fact-finding visit to Kent on 30 July to see how HS1, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, has affected the surrounding area. The visit started at Ebbsfleet Station, and included a look at a maintenance depot, tunnel portals and a view of the line as it runs through AONB, where it runs alongside the M20. Councillor Marion Clayton said: “The visit really brought home the devastating impact that HS2 would have on the Buckinghamshire countryside. Trains were travelling at considerably slower speeds than those proposed on HS2, so anticipated noise levels were difficult to assess, particularly with the constant motorway noise alongside, but the visual intrusion was only too evident. It simply confirmed our determination to change the thinking on the preferred route.”
Wendover HS2 will be manning market stalls on Manor Waste on 19 August and 16 September. Information about the Exceptional Hardship Scheme will be available, along with maps, car stickers and posters.
How to get involved
Please continue to write to the Prime Minister and to Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA with your views and concerns about HS2. On a local level, please pick up and display a car sticker and poster from our market stall. You can also download posters at www.wendoverhs2.org.
As the AVDC nominee on the Chilterns Conservation Board, I feel it is my primary duty to protect and enhance the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. At the present time, the AONB is facing a concentrated threat by politicians of all parties (luckily with some exceptions) with regard to the high Speed 2 proposals. The AONB landscape which has national protection will be damaged beyond recognition and be a disaster for our beautiful countryside. Areas which were once relatively quiet and peaceful will suffer visual and noise intrusion. This will change our perception and that of visitors resulting in a fall in tourist numbers and hence economic damage. Due to compulsory purchase, farm viability will be threatened with the loss of farmland and woodland, which will create long term damage for future generations. The list of disadvantages is endless and the threat to our well-being is real and imminent. For instance, Three Valleys District Council draws 70% of its domestic water supply from the Chilterns and the proposed tunneling will create a massive drain which will pollute the water supply. Politicians and the bureaucrats behind them will only begin to comprehend the scale of our opposition if they are badgered constantly. If you have already written, write again. Pester and hassle until they have to listen to us.
Councillor Chris Richards
High-speed rail access to Heathrow: Mawhinney report
On 21 July the Department for Transport published an independent report by Lord Mawhinney making recommendations about rail access to Heathrow Airport and about the location of a high-speed rail station to serve Heathrow. In his report, which was commissioned by the previous government, Lord Mawhinney concluded that there is currently no compelling case for a direct high-speed rail link to Heathrow, and suggested that Old Oak Common, in north-west London, could be used as the interchange for Heathrow, and potentially as the terminus for HS2, instead of Euston. Transport Secretary Philip Hammond appeared to reject the former suggestion when he appeared before the Transport Committee on 26 July, stating: ‘There has to be a connection which feels right to airline travelers . . . “
Mr. Hammond has asked HS2 Ltd to look at options for a Heathrow connection and to report back to him at the end of August. It is not clear, at this stage, whether routing HS2 via Heathrow would affect HS2 Ltd’s ‘preferred’ route through the Chilterns.
Uncorrected transcript of Philip Hammond’s evidence to the Transport Committee http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmselect/cmtran/uc359/uc35901.htm
Secretary of State’s visit
It is hoped that Philip Hammond will be paying a visit to areas on the proposed route during the summer recess. He will reportedly spend three days visiting different sections of the route, viewing areas affected by the proposals. Local councillors are pressing for Wendover to be included in the visit.
Business and environmental case
Wendover HS2’s Business Working Group is continuing its work behind the scenes on the business case. Meanwhile the Chilterns Conservation Board has distributed a leaflet to all MPs setting out the case against HS2 on economic and environmental grounds.