HS2 Update – April 2019

The Treasury Review

The amount of stick that HS2 is getting in the press shows that its not just me that has noticed how poorly led this project is. It also demonstrates how ill equipped government is when it comes to assessing the need for big projects and how inept they are in selecting and managing delivery partners. Surely, no matter where this project ends up there has to be a public enquiry into how it’s been managed.

The latest worrying example of this government muddle seems to surround the Treasury Review. This is the same Treasury Review that Liz Truss MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, recently suggested might lead to a white elephant cull.

HS2 was to be reviewed in March 19 but now its to be in late summer. HS2 is expecting to be given Notice to Proceed by Transport Minister Chris Grayling in July 19. This raises a couple of questions. Why is the HS2 element of the Treasury Review delayed? Is the government more or less likely to shut down a failing project when it’s just got going, employing tens of thousands of people, and busily grubbing up the countryside?

We have asked David Lidington our MP to investigate for us.

The above is a national enigma. Wendover has a couple of posers of its own at present.

The Letter

Greatworth and Halse PC, South Northamptonshire PC’s affected by the route, have asked all of the PCs along the line to sign a letter that they have produced, to go to MPs, asking for HS2 to be stopped.

Wendover Parish Council’s long held policy is not to try to stop the HS2 project. It is to get the best possible mitigation for Wendover. This is seen as being a mined tunnel past the village.

Our stance has opened many doors to us. We have spoken to Ministers and their advisors, MP’s and members of the House of Lords, senior people at HS2 Ltd and the Main Works Contractor. We currently have live discussions in place on Noise, Hydrogeology and Tunnelling and a host of other subjects. We and our advisers believe that this engagement would be impossible to sustain if our message was simply STOP.

Following discussions at working group and full Council level it was agreed that WPC should maintain its current position. I have therefore written to Greatworth and Halse PC’s, explained Wendover’s position and declined their offer.

The Report

In January 19 we received the OTBE report that lays out the facts that make the Wendover Mined Tunnel a sensible and economical solution for DfT/HS2. On the 15th we shared it with David Lidington MP. On the 25th we met with David who confirmed that he had passed the report to Nusrat Ghani MP.

In March in the House of Lords, Baroness Young asked…

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the reports by OTB Engineering, published in January, and Michael Byng, published in July 2017 on the Short-Mined Tunnel alternative proposal to the HS2 Phase One route at Wendover; and whether they will place copies of both reports in the Library of the House. Hansard

In a written response on the 4th of March, Baroness Sugg for Government stated…

The Department for Transport has not received a report by OTB engineering published in January 2019 regarding the HS2 Phase One route at Wendover. Hansard

As a result of this rather alarming development our lobbyist has now delivered copies of the OTBE report to all ministers at the DfT.

On the 6th of March and again on the 8th we asked David Lidington to find out what has gone wrong here. At the time of writing we have not had a response. We are chasing for answers.

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