HS2 update – March 2021

MARCH UPDATE. We’ve been busy over the last month as the campaign continues, HS2 works start to make themselves felt in our community and questions and complaints mount up.

MP. We’ve had a meeting with Rob Butler MP.

Rob will continue to ask questions of the minister for us. The Minister, Andrew Stephenson, has, in a written response to Rob, indicated that communities are to be consulted on HS2 S17 planning issues. Buckinghamshire Council (BC), the Local Planning Authority (LPA) have instructed Parish Councils that they will not be considered as Statutory Consultees in the S17 process. Rob will investigate this divergence between the LPA and The Minister on S17 planning consultation.

Rob has also indicated that he will work with us and with BC, to develop a culture within the HS2 contractors group to ensure that mitigation comes first. This results from the appalling delay in arranging satisfactory safety and mitigation measures at Bowood Lane.

LORDS. We’ve also met with both Lord Berkeley and Lord Randell. Tony Berkeley continues to question government on our behalf. John Randell has long been a supporter of our campaign for a tunnel and he shares our concerns about the potential damage to chalk streams and the aquifer.

INFORMATION. We have received official HS2 reports on the geology of the line past Wendover confirming that tunnelling is pretty straightforward past Wendover and that our tunnel design suits the conditions. You may ask why the Minister still maintains the opinion that it’s all too difficult.

A draft Transport Management Plan (TMP) for HS2 construction is going the rounds. It absolutely fails to adopt any of the mitigation that we asked for at the petitioning stage. It appears to show that construction generated vehicle numbers on roads will be much higher than in the Environmental Statement (ES). Increased vehicle movements and insufficient mitigation must mean that locations flagged as “significant adverse effect” in the ES will experience worse traffic conditions than indicated previously. BC are currently evaluating this TMP.

MEETINGS. A number of meetings have been held with neighbouring parishes to share information on issues that overlap our boundaries; issues like road congestion, road safety and flooding. These have resulted in the sharing of information and I don’t doubt they will continue to gain value as construction commences.

AONB. The Chilterns Conservation Board have written a report on HS2 in the Chilterns. The report shows HS2 to be far from the “Good Neighbours” that they claim to be. You can read it here… www.wendover-pc.gov.uk/post/area-of-neighbourly-behaviour-hs2

Tom Walsh