HS2 update, August 2019
Noise: It’s worse than we thought.
The WPC HS2 team and WHS2 have now had two technical meetings with HS2/EK on the subject of operational noise. It looks more and more likely that the noise levels promised to MP’s and the Lords were definitely “pie in the sky” and that they now look to be unobtainable.
HS2/EK are still working on the noise problem but if the railway operates at the planned speed of 360kph, and it could operate much faster than that (track design is for 400kph), it’s looking like noise nuisance will affect twice as many homes in Wendover Parish (up to 500 homes) to a greater extent than was indicated at the Parliamentary hearings.
Wendover, and many other areas on the route, will be left with a clearly unacceptable situation. The landscape will be forever scarred by ugly noise barriers and earthworks. Despite this, many of us will still experience high levels of train noise night and day. Much higher than HS2’s own noise levels as published in Information Paper E20 and the EMR. Far greater than the recent World Health Organisation recommendations.
The PC has lodged a formal complaint to HS2 on the noise issue and David Lidington has been briefed.
Our Cheaper, Quicker, Simpler Tunnel is the answer.
AVDC: Will they play their part?
Noise is one factor to be considered by AVDC at the planning application, schedule 17, stage. I wish that I had more confidence that it will be properly dealt with. The Bill makes it possible for planning authorities to “kick the can down the road” by leaving noise for future action, when the railway is operational. There is then a mechanism for operational noise to be measured in real-time and for further mitigation steps to be retrospectively applied.
How much stomach there’ll be for getting into a complex legal punch up to impose noise reduction measures on the operator, once the things running, your guess is as good as mine. Retrospective measures like more barriers (difficult to install if the land has been returned to the farmer), or slowing the trains down (which has a truly enormous cost/scheduling implications) don’t look either practical or likely. My view is that AVDC should get out in front of this problem and use their powers to make HS2 meet it’s noise obligations now.
Why not Email your District Councillors and tell them what you think.
On a positive note it sounds as if David Lidington is getting somewhere with setting up a meeting of tunnelling experts. No date yet but positive noises from him. He is also setting up a meeting with BCC/EK regarding the Small Dean viaduct effect on the A413.
On the 3rd of July I had a very positive meeting with the Shadow Rail Minister, Rachael Maskell MP. Labour are in favour of HS2 but they are not convinced by the scheme as it is presented or of the way it is being delivered. Rachael listen very attentively and seemed to take on boarded the benefits offered by the Mined Tunnel and also our view that HS2, as a project, should be subject to a peer review process. Many other large projects have found this type of review invaluable.
A meeting took place on the 8th of July, in Birmingham, on the subject of Hydrogeology. I attended with Andy Band and Murray Cooke of Wendover HS2. Andy leads for us on Hydrogeology. I was dismayed to find that not much has changed on Hydrogeology in the last 12 months. There are still tests to be carried out and vital data has not trickled down from HS2 to inform crucial design elements. Not a meeting to inspire confidence in the project at all.