HS2 Update – July 2018

It’s a time of both problems and opportunity for the HS2 team as we carry on promoting Wendover’s Mined Tunnel solution.

Problem 1: We had hoped to arrange a public meeting where HS2 Ltd and its contractors EK could show us their proposal for two viaducts and other structures. We’d penciled in 18 June but HS2’s engagement team have let us down. We’ll keep trying to set something up and let you know the revised date. This is important because the current viaduct proposed for Small Dean is an enormous, uncompromising structure to run through our AONB and its construction means that the A413 is forever restricted to the width that it is today. Considering the future economic and population growth predicted for the Vale this is surely a big issue. It would be an irony if Government’s much hyped “Engine of Growth” stifles our economic opportunity in the Vale.

Problem 2: HS2 Ltd are getting a reputation as being “bad payers”. They seem unable to meet their own timetable for paying landowners the agreed fees for access and temporary land take. If you’ve had a problem of this kind do let me know.

Opportunity 1: I’ve mentioned before that our team has benefited from working with Lord Berkeley. He has arranged for one of us to join him visiting Nusrat Ghani MP, the minister for HS2. It’s been hard to pin down a date but Wendover will be well represented at it when it occurs.

David Lidington MP has supported our lobbying and influencing programme. He has been very helpful to us as we’ve picked our way through the complexities of this vast government project.

Opportunity 2: The Infrastructure and Projects Authority are to review the HS2 project through the summer.

Wendover’s mined tunnel alternative, and the way HS2 Ltd and the DfT have treated it are now a named item in the review. We’ve been asking for some form of independent review since the petitioning stage, so this is a very good thing for Wendover.

Opportunity 3: On 12 June, New Civil Engineer magazine published an article on HS2’s cost. Information from a number of sources indicated that interim costs from the contractors are substantially greater than HS2’s target. This vindicates the Wendover Team’s decision to draw attention to the cost issues and to argue for a lower cost alternative to what was proposed. It has to be said that this approach has gained real traction now, both in government and far wider and that is due in no small part to the WPC recognising and funding the research and lobbying, the high level support of Lord Berkeley, and the incredible effort and determination of two Wendover residents, Bob Lewis and David Ball. The magazine has had indications that the Notice to Proceed, which effectively launches the project’s build phase is likely to be delayed into 2019. This, if true, gives the PC’s team more time to seek improved mitigation.

The work goes on.

Tom Walsh, Chairman Wendover Parish Council

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