HS2 Update, April 2018
The WPC HS2 working group has been busy expanding the number of friends Wendover has in high places, with a targeted campaign in both Houses of Parliament.
The lobbying team have had a meeting with Dominic Grieve MP. He is happy to spread our message on costs around his wide circle of colleagues. He believes that there is no will to take HS2 back to the House of Commons. He would like us to succeed but he doubts that we can. He does agree with the way that we’re doing things and he thinks cost is the issue to use to influence opinion.
Our lobbyist has been in contact with Lilian Greenwood’s office (Transport Select Committee Chair) and Gordon Clarke (Transport Select Committee Clerk) and they are very interested in potential cost savings along the HS2 phase one route (including the Short Mined Tunnel proposal). We are to pass our information to the Committee and we’re aiming to get a meeting with them.
Lord Berkeley, a former Rail Minister who certainly thinks that we can get the mined tunnel, has written to the Public Accounts Committee. He is currently tabling a number of written questions to the government on HS2’s construction costs in the House of Lords.
Assurances Funded by HS2 Ltd
Bucks CC Assurance 1: Highway Noise Barriers along the Wendover Bypass. HS2 recognises that HGV construction traffic will be noisy.There is now a practical scheme for a roadside noise barrier system that will offer a reduction of between 5db and 1db for a significant number of homes. This is not to do with the noise of HS2 trains. This is to do with the noise of HGV traffic generated by the building of HS2.
The Parish Council has been kept informed of developments with the project and at a recent meeting with Bucks CC we asked for the design to be re-modelled slightly with a north-going extension of 200m. This would we hope, have benefits for homes in Bridleways and Lionel Ave. While the barriers may not be the most beautiful addition to our bypass landscape, the modelling shows a worthwhile benefit for a lot of homes. They are fully funded by HS2 Ltd. Funding provided under this assurance cannot be used for any other purpose but providing noise barriers and the future maintenance of the these structures. We are told that it cannot be used for resurfacing for example.
Bucks CC Assurance2: There is also a draft design for cycleway improvements. This seems to offer a safe and improved route for cyclists, into Wendover, from North and South.
Additionally: WPC is trying to influence Bucks CC to engineer traffic controls during construction to reduce traffic speed on the bypass, increase safety and further reduce noise.
Both schemes will be put out as a consultation soon. I hope that residents will have their say then. The Parish Council voted to support both schemes and to press for the lower speeds. We will continue working to hone them into the best outcome we can.
The HS2 Construction Commissioner
We are going to try to set up public meeting for you all to meet the HS2 Construction Commissioner. The Commissioner’s office is where you will have to go if you have a complaint that HS2 Ltd or its contractors cannot or will not deal with. It should be very interesting to hear what he has to say.
Tom Walsh, Chair of WPC HS2 Working Group