DCSIMG

MPs Lidington and Bercow respond to HS2 consultation

David Lidington and, below, John Bercow

David Lidington and, below, John Bercow

 

Vale MPs David Lidington and John Bercow have handed in their official responses to HS2, totalling a combined 28,091 words.

In his 15,537 word response Aylesbury MP Mr Lidington criticises the way the project has been handled but falls short of objecting to the scheme – such a move would mean quitting his government role as Minister for Europe.

He calls for better mitigation for his constituents.

These include:

> Improved mitigation measures at Wendover Dean and Dunsmore to mitigate the impact of the proposed 18m high viaduct.

> HS2 Ltd to urgently resolve the outstanding noise impact on St Mary’s Church in Wendover.

> Increased tunnelling in the Chilterns AONB but with local agreement on the location of any tunnel portal north of Wendover.

> Additional mitigation measures to ensure that the residents of Stoke Mandeville and the Hawkslade estate in Aylesbury do not experience any significant noise impact from HS2

> The mitigation measures for Fairford Leys to be in keeping with the local area and have local support.

He said: “My response to the Environmental Statement consultation reflects my own views as well as those expressed to me by my constituents.

“I hope the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd take note of the views expressed in responses to the consultation and commit to making changes to the design of scheme to reflect the views of those most affected by HS2.”

In his 12,554 word response Mr Bercow, who represents villages in the north Vale as well as the outskirts of Aylesbury said he was ‘implacably opposed’ to the scheme, as ‘communities will be destroyed, businesses will be displaced and the environment will be permanently ruined’.

He also calls for further mitigation should HS2 go ahead.

This includes:

> Owners of Aylesbury Park Golf Club, which will be hugely impacted by the line, to be fully compensated and for alternative recreational facilities to be provided.

> A Waddesdon bypass.

> A train station in the Calvert area on the new Aylesbury to Milton Keynes line.

> Compensating rural communities with the installation of super-fast broadband.

He said: “Though I have consistently fought for the project to be dropped and I continue to do so, I have turned my attention to ensuring my constituents get the best possible deal if the Government decide to proceed.

“It is now clearer than ever that the Government has every intention of pushing forward with High Speed 2 and it is only right that I stand with my constituents in their fight to protect their homes, communities and livelihoods as effectively as possible.”

You can read the MPs’ responses in full by clicking on the links below. We have also reproduced Mr Lidington’s executive summary and Mr Bercow’s introduction below.

David Lidington’s response in full

John Bercow’s response in full

DAVID LIDINGTON’S EXECUTIVE SUMMARY IN FULL:

In November 2013 the Department for Transport deposited the Hybrid Bill for Phase One of HS2 and launched a consultation on the Environmental Statement which details the mitigation measures HS2 Ltd are proposing to put in place as well as the impact HS2 will have on areas it passes through.

I have responded at length to this consultation to ensure that the Department for Transport is well aware of my views and more importantly those of my constituents many of whom will be significantly affected by the scheme. 
A fundamental principle of any mitigation measures that are eventually put in place should be that any citizen who is impacted by the HS2 scheme, which is meant to be in the national interest, should be provided with the best possible mitigation. 
Although the length of the consultation was extended by the Standing Orders Committees of the House of Commons and House of Lords (as a result of 877 pages of the Environmental Statement not initially being included in the documents on the consultation website).

I remain deeply disappointed at the brevity of the consultation period which did not allow those with an interest in what is being proposed sufficient time to consider the documents and submit a full response. I am also concerned by fact that HS2 Ltd frequently does not provide a full explanation when they decide not to include in the scheme an idea proposed by the local community.

I hope Sir David Higgins is able to improve the manner in which HS2 Ltd communicates with those affected by the scheme. Environmental Groups have also expressed their concerns to me about the failure of HS2 Ltd to provide them with the necessary information they feel they need to respond to the consultation.

It is important that a solution is found to provide better mitigation to those communities which are affected by HS2 between the Wendover Dean and Small Dean Viaducts.

I was disappointed HS2 Ltd have rejected the local community’s suggestion for the route to be enclosed between the two viaducts without having a suitable alternative to suggest. I also expect HS2 Ltd to fully consider the proposal from residents of London Road in Wendover to realign the A413 in this area. 
HS2 Ltd need to ensure that local services including healthcare facilities are not adversely impacted by the inclusion of accommodation at the Small Dean Construction Compound. While residents of Wendover have told me they do not object to people living at the compound during construction they quite rightly expect HS2 Ltd to ensure the impact on the village is minimal. 
I welcome the decision of HS2 Ltd, following a local campaign, to reinstate Bacombe Lane over the green tunnel once it is constructed but am extremely disappointed that HS2 Ltd are yet to provide suitable mitigation measures for either St Mary’s Church or Wendover House School.

HS2 Ltd need to treat this issue with the utmost priority. 
The inclusion of the Stoke Mandeville by-pass in the scheme is welcome as is the removal of the construction compound at Marsh Lane.

However, it is unfortunate that due to construction of the bypass a property on Lower Road is scheduled to be demolished. I am aware the owners of 30 Lower 
Road have proposed alternative alignments for the bypass and I expect HS2 Ltd to engage with the owners of 30 Lower Road, Buckinghamshire County Council and Stoke Mandeville Parish Council to find an acceptable solution. 
Stoke Mandeville residents have said they expect HS2 Ltd to provide the best possible mitigation to ensure that the impact of the maintenance loop on their lives is limited as much as is technically possible.

It is important HS2 Ltd listen to local residents regarding issues surrounding lighting and 
security and provide appropriate mitigation that local people want. 
A solution needs to be found to provide either better mitigation or generous compensation to property owners affected by HS2 in Hawkslade, Walton Court and West Aylesbury. HS2 passes within 125m of Aylesbury and I have been told HS2 Ltd are out of ideas on how to provide adequate mitigation in this area.

I hope this is not the case. If it is not possible to include the necessary level of mitigation in this area, all property owners who suffer a loss that could be attributed to HS2 should be provided with full compensation for this loss.

The residents of Fairford Leys are keen that the mitigation measures put in place are in keeping with the local area and want HS2 Ltd to ensure that the Thame Valley viaduct is aesthetically suitable for its location.

I was pleased HS2 Ltd said they were happy to speak to Coldharbour Parish Council to discuss mitigation for this area further. 
The CRAG proposal for a bored tunnel through the entire Chilterns AONB has been controversial in my constituency.

Residents of Wendover Dean, Dunsmore and Wendover strongly support the proposals.

Residents of Stoke Mandeville, while supporting the principle of an extended tunnel, oppose a northward extension to the Wendover tunnel, bored or otherwise, towards their village.

I support the principle of additional tunnelling in the Chilterns AONB. It is important to continue to seek local agreement on where the portal north of Wendover should lie.

HS2 Ltd should reconsider their decision not to include a land bridge as detailed in the National Trust’s proposals for mitigation between Stoke Mandeville and Waddesdon. The National Trust are of the view that the short term pain of increased land take is more than outweighed by the long term environmental benefits a land bridge provides. 
One of the biggest fears of my constituents is the noise that HS2 trains will make as they pass. The fact that Volume Two of the Environmental Statement did not make reference to the existence of peak noise or detailed baseline data in Volume Five does nothing to allay the main fear of my 
constituents.

I am also concerned by the contradictory information I have been provided with by HS2 Ltd and one of their noise experts regarding whether peak noise information can be shown on a noise contour map. 
HS2 Ltd also need to ensure that their Code of Construction Practice is of “Exemplar Standard” like the Code of Construction Practice that was put in place for construction of London 2012 venues.

I would expect them to engage with both the local NHS Trust and Ambulance Service to ensure that construction of HS2 does not impact on Ambulance response times in Buckinghamshire. 
Delivery routes to construction sites also need to be devised to ensure that they do not adversely impact on the local economy and a community fund to provide benefits to each Parish that is affected by Phase One HS2 should be established. 
I hope that the Department for Transport listens to what those responding to this consultation say on their proposed measures and make changes accordingly.

JOHN BERCOW’S INTRODUCTION IN FULL:

In responding to this consultation, I should make clear that I am implacably opposed to High Speed 2.

Since the proposals were first put forward for a High Speed Rail link between London and Birmingham in March 2010, it was abundantly clear to me and to my constituents that the Buckingham constituency would fare badly as a result.

Little did we know at the time the sheer extent of devastation that this project would create; if the content of the Draft Environmental Statement were cause for concern, the grim reality as set out in the formal Environmental Statement gives many of my constituents very real fears.

In my constituency alone 12 residential properties will be demolished, many more rendered obsolete and countless others will be irrevocably blighted.

Communities will be destroyed, businesses will be displaced and the environment will be permanently ruined.

In nearly 17 years as a Member of Parliament, HS2 is the single biggest issue I have had to deal with and one of the few subjects on which there is near unanimous opposition amongst my constituents.

Once completed, up to 18 400m long trains will run through the area every hour all day, well into the night. For rural Buckinghamshire, an area characterised by beautiful landscapes and bucolic tranquillity, HS2 is a disaster.

The picturesque Buckinghamshire villages in my constituency are set to be cast into the shadow of high speed trains which will thunder past at speeds of up to 360 kilometres per hour.

Though I have consistently fought for the project to be dropped and I continue to do so, I have turned my attention to ensuring my constituents get the best possible deal if the Government decide to proceed.

It is now clearer than ever that the Government has every intention of pushing forward with High Speed 2 and it is only right that I stand with

my constituents in their fight to protect their homes, communities and livelihoods as effectively as possible. Given the extent of the impact across my constituency, it would be impractical for me to go into great detail about every specific impact; rather, I have highlighted a number of key areas which deserve greater attention as well as a broad overview of the concerns held by my constituents.

My response to this consultation incorporates correspondence I have received from individual constituents, local Councils and various stakeholders. I have attended as many Community Forum meetings as I have been able to do and listened very carefully to the concerns of those present; it is with deep regret that the Community Forums have been discontinued in recent times.

A number of pragmatic suggestions have been put forward at these meetings which were deemed inappropriate in the Draft Environmental Statement (DES); I share my constituents’ disappointment that, in spite of reasoned responses to the DES consultation, these mitigation measures continue to be excluded from the Government’s plans.

Along with my constituents, I will continue the fight to secure better mitigation to protect affected communities for generations to come.

To that end, I intend to support petitions lodged by my constituents against the Bill.

The Chief Executive at HS2 Ltd claimed her organisation “will promote high speed rail and balance community, environmental and economic issues”

The areas affected in my constituency fall mid-way between London and Birmingham and will have no tangible benefits from the High Speed rail line.

As you will note from my response, I firmly believe that too much attention has been paid to the economic implications of the project

- which are themselves the subject of hot contention - and the importance of community and environment seems to have been relegated.

The sheer volume of material to study as part of this consultation is quite simply overwhelming. I have not had the office resources to respond comprehensively to every aspect of the consultation which is a matter of deep regret.

Considering the woefully inadequate time in which responses are expected to be submitted, I – like many of my constituents – feel seriously aggrieved that we simply cannot respond as comprehensively or effectively as we would like.

Even in spite of significant errors being identified in the published material and an abundance of complaints about delays in receiving Environmental Statement documentation (and I found myself in this unfortunate position when trying to obtain hard copies), no dispensation has been offered in recognition of the errors made by the Government and HS2 Ltd.

Running the consultation over the Christmas holiday period only compounds in the minds of many the view that little consideration or credit is attributed to the valuable contribution of those who wish to respond. Indeed, those who do not have internet access are reliant on access to consultation material available in public libraries, many of which were closed over the festive period.

I have received many emails and letters from constituents who, though affected by HS2, have chosen not to submit their comments on the basis that their protestations to date have been simply ignored. The woefully inadequate response timeframe serves only to embed this cynicism.

I have been approached by constituents who, already concerned and anxious about the impact High Speed 2 will have on their properties and lives, feel completely overwhelmed by the Environmental Statement, not knowing what to read or how best to respond.

I appreciate that, with a project of this magnitude and the nature of an Environmental Statement, much of the detail is complicated and technical.

Very little has been done, however, either to assuage the concerns of my constituents or to make the documents comprehensible to them. Had Community Forum meetings been in place, or an adequate equivalent, those with concerns would have been able to discuss their concerns with representatives from HS2 Ltd, put their questions and learn more about the project.

Instead, one-day information sessions in each Community Forum area, which were poorly advertised, fall far short of what is required to ensure that the consultation is accessible and understandable for vast numbers of my constituents. It is simply lamentable that my justifiably concerned constituents have been prevented from airing their concerns and asking questions.

Yet in spite of the mass of information published as part of the Environmental Statement, I share the consternation of my constituents that some of the most important aspects of the project pertaining to mitigation remain undecided and will be decided “during the detailed design”; my constituents and I were under the impression that the Environmental Statement was, indeed, a detailed design of the project.

It does raise the question, therefore, of why this information has been omitted. There is concern amongst many of my constituents that this project is being rushed through to meet an unrealistic timescale and incidents such as this do little to abate that concern.

Many of the mitigation measures proposed in the Environmental Statement fail to meet the needs and expectations of my constituents and I simply do not accept that HS2 Ltd has any consideration for what impact this project will have on local communities. In May 2013, I wrote to both the Secretary of State at the Department for Transport and the Chief Executive at High Speed 2 Ltd asking that, in the Environmental Statement, the impact on communities of property demolitions be fairly represented. In the Draft Environmental Statement, the demolition of a home was described as having a “minoradverse” effect, whereas – in fact – the impact locally is significantly greater.

Small and close-knit neighbourhoods will be adversely affected by this loss of both property and community, a fact which should be apparent to High Speed 2 Ltd.

To describe the impact as anything other than major is, quite simply, insulting. It is regrettable that the

Environmental Statement has not taken note of my earlier representations.

The Environmental Statement has raised yet more questions for my constituents about compensation arrangements. It is clear that the development of High Speed 2 will put extreme pressure on the road network in my constituency, roads which are already - in some cases – in a state of disrepair or susceptible to damage as they simply are not suitable for the heavy vehicles which will be frequently used.

Increased construction traffic will mean greater delays on the roads for my constituents or longer journeys owing to road closures: they are rightly concerned to know how – if at all – they will be compensated for the added travel costs they will incur.

The recent compensation consultation did not include anything which recognised the impact the project will have on the private rented sector: properties close to the line will become less valuable and, as such, will attract a lower rent: how will this be compensated?

In short, so far as my constituents and I are concerned, the HS2 project is all pain and no gain. I make this response in order to register the views and legitimate demands of my constituents but I reiterate that it would be far better if the Government were to discontinue the project altogether.

 

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