Rob Butler, MP – December 2020
The first thing I want to do is thank everyone in the Wendover community who has been working so hard to keep to the new coronavirus restrictions. Their introduction came as a blow to us all; I fully appreciate that the past weeks have been especially difficult and am grateful for your continued patience and commitment to combatting this horrendous virus.
While we must ensure the NHS can carry out its work, I remain firm in my belief that we should remove restrictions as soon as possible – for the sake of our economy, our livelihoods, our mental health, our liberty and our democracy.
We all know that Wendover will be one of the villages worst affected by HS2 in the country. Ever since my election last December I have consistently pushed the government and senior managers at HS2 Ltd to get the best possible mitigation for local people.
Since the summer recess, I have again pressed ministers to reconsider the entire HS2 project, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Sadly but predictably, they have refused.
Similarly, the government has repeatedly rejected calls for a bored mined tunnel in Wendover; I asked the Prime Minister himself about this in the House of Commons and have tried to find ways of enabling a tunnel to be built without having to reopen the HS2 Act. Sadly, this has been to no avail. While I share the belief that a tunnel would be the optimum solution for Wendover, I sincerely believe that my responsibility now is to find the best mitigation that can be achieved.
Accordingly, I am working with the Wendover HS2 Group to address noise pollution and am pleased that HS2 Ltd has agreed a technical meeting to consider the group’s proposals. I have also challenged HS2 Ltd about potential harm to bats at Jones Hill Woods, and been assured that no tree clearances will take place before an ecological survey is carried out.
I keep a running log of all actions relating to HS2 on my website, and will continue to hold HS2 Ltd’s feet to the fire to ensure they abide by their commitments to the residents of Wendover.
The end of the year is always a time for reflection. 2020 has given us almost too much to contemplate; few of us will remember it with fondness. Thankfully, there is a glimmer of hope for the new year, with the prospect of a Covid vaccine on the horizon that could herald a return to happier, more normal times. Let us hold onto that optimism through this unusual festive season, and may I wish you and your families a Merry Christmas.