The Wendover Society’s views on HS2

Seeking better Mitigation for the problems that HS2 will bring to Wendover remains the Committee’s major priority.

Most Members will be familiar with what happened at the Select Committee in the House of Commons.

Essentially the Committee did not agree to any significant Mitigation of the effects of the proposed HS2 Route at Wendover.

On 25th March we held a well-attended special meeting of Members in St Anne’s Hall, to decide our next move.

The unanimous view was to try to obtain better Mitigation at the Select Committee in the Lords.

The Society’s Petition has been accepted to be heard.

Amongst those also accepted are the Parish Council, London Road Residents, the School and the Church.

Others were not so fortunate. There were 822 Petitions in total. HS2 Ltd Challenged the Locus Standi in 414 cases, leaving 408 to be heard. In the Wendover area, there were 126 Petitions, of which 24 were not Challenged but 102 were Challenged. Those Challenged will have the opportunity to Appeal (to be heard), at a series of Select Committee hearings starting on 7-6-2016.

The central theme of the Society’s Petition is to argue that Noise and Noise Barriers are very big issues for Wendover, that HS2 Ltd have exaggerated Engineering Costs against Tunnels, and to seek extra Tunnelling as a solution to the Mitigation required for Wendover.

At the meeting back in March, we launched an Appeal for the Funds needed to secure Professional help.

The response from our Members has been very generous, and we have also received contributions from AVDC, the Lionel Abel-Smith Trust and Wendover U3A.

We have therefore been able to start meetings to secure Engineering Cost advice. The initial meetings suggest that we will receive excellent Technical support for our arguments.

The parallel activity to secure advice on Noise issues has been held up by the difficulties of finding a suitable Expert, who can also perform in front of the Select Committee. The one Noise Expert who was so outstanding in the House of Commons, is not able to act for us.

The Government and HS2 Ltd are doing their best to prevent the case for a Long Tunnel through the Chilterns being heard at all. Their argument revolves around the Long Tunnel requiring what is known in Parliamentary procedure language as an “Additional Provision”. If an alteration to the Bill is such as to require major changes, for example to the footprint of the Project, then an “Additional Provision” would be required to secure the change. If the Government succeeds in its wishes, there will be no Long Tunnel. So, the Political wrangles continue in Westminster.

As this article goes to Press, late breaking news is that at the very first Locus Appeal hearing (on 7-6-2016) the Conserve the Chilterns and Countryside Group deposited a proposal on behalf of all interested parties, designed to get a Ruling from the Select Committee The objective is that Mitigation requests which involve Additional Provisions and Tunnels will be heard. The Chairman of the SC accepted the proposal for consideration, but made unhelpful comments about the chances of success. He deferred consideration to a later date, which we now understand is likely to be 30-6-2016. If this initiative fails, our position, and that of many others. will become very difficult to sustain.

So far, our Legal advice has been to the effect that there are other ways of securing more modest Mitigation, such as a 3.95 kM Short Tunnel. It is not an easy process however, with the Government having disproportionately large resources, and pulling every trick available in an attempt to get their way – irrespective of the damage that their plans would inflict on the people and fabric of Wendover.

The Select Committee has decided to start hearing Petitions from Birmingham, and then move South, but not exclusively in that order. The good people of Camden are upset at being the last to state their case, so this means Wendover will probably be the last to be heard! It looks as if we will not be asked to appear before say September or October 2016, but no one yet knows for sure.