HS2 update – January 2021

The Reality of Living with HS2
The immediate negative impacts of HS2 on Wendover are clear and terrible. The longterm disruptions that will be caused by its construction are harder to imagine but just as real. Ask the residents of Bowood Lane. They are currently living on the frontline. Fusion, the HS2 early works contractor, are using Bowood Lane as a site access road, mainly for vegetative clearance. Many of you will remember the fine words in Parliament about HS2 being good neighbours and using lorry wheel washers and sweepers and traffic management to mitigate disruption. That was “pie in the sky”. Also remember that this is not the main event, it’s a tiny contract and it’s causing chaos because of bad management and indifference. Mud, damage and trespass are commonplace and residents can get no redress from Fusion, HS2 or from the Highway Authority. If this is a microcosm of the impact of the whole project it does not bode well for Wendover. WPC will complain formally on behalf of the community.

An Invitation to the Minister
As I started to outline last month, we have had a lot of communication with government recently.

I have now had sight of the response, dated 1 December, from Andrew Stephenson, MP, Minister of State at the DfT to Rob Butler’s letter of 19 November. Andrew tries to deny that there is any inconsistency between the way that the decision to use a Transport and Works Order Act to enable tunnelling at Bromford and the way Wendover is denied that same process. He takes comfort from the fact that the Bromford contractor BBV suggested a tunnel solution at Bromford. He ignores the fact that EKFB, our contractor, was, we are told, encouraged not to consider tunnelling at Wendover and to design the scheme as per the Act. We are requesting that Rob Butler invites the Minister to Wendover as soon as possible. The PM and Andrew himself have stated that they will work with Wendover, so what better way than to visit?

Who Cares for the AONB
The Bromford decision raises the question: What price the AONB? The driver for the Bromford tunnel seems to be to solve a technical issue, to avoid some disruption and to “save” an estate of industrial units. For HS2, the unsolved technical issues that dog the project around Wendover – operational noise, the aquifer, flooding and the scarring of the AONB – don’t seem worthy of the same consideration. Perhaps you would contact Andrew Stevenson MP at the DfT and ask him why he cares so little for the AONB.

Tom Walsh