March 2015 Monthly Archives

HS2 Update March 2015

March 26, 2015


Please click on the link to read my latest HS2 e:bullein –  HS2 bulletin.March 2015

HS2 Select Commitee Publish Interim Report

March 26, 2015

HS2 Train

Today the HS2 Select Committee has published its first interim report which summarises the decisions and observations of the HS2 Select Committee so far.

The HS2 Committee has been hearing petitions from those specially and directly affected by the project which included residents from Harefield.

The Interim report even makes special commendation to petitioners from Harefield for their approach in front of the Committee, avoiding repetition and ensuring the maximum impact;

“41. It is crucial for petitioners who wish to make an impact on the Committee to avoid rehearsing points already made by others in the same area. That is assisted if petitioners view previous session,41 and are present in the committee room throughout the day on which they are due to appear. Petitioners who form groups to share issues between them will avoid repetition and maintain credibility and individual colour to their case. We commend several groups of petitioners already heard, including those from Hampton-in-Arden, Burton Green, Ufton, Long Itchington and Harefield, for adopting this approach. We have generally found it helpful when parish councils or similar bodies have taken a lead.”

The Report confirms again the dropping of the Heathrow Spur and acknowledges the question of blight surrounding the issue:

“71. We will be only part way through hearing petitions from this area when Parliament dissolves. Furthermore, certain issues raised by petitioners from the Colne Valley are connected with Chilterns issues. We reserve judgment on these petitions. The Heathrow spur has been abandoned but passive provisions remain in the Bill to safeguard against a change in policy in the longer term, and these are illustrated in associated maps. Passive provisions may be sensible, but whether they are really needed should be reconsidered after the final report of the Airports Commission. The risk of a continuing perception of blight should be monitored.”

Finally regarding compensation the Committee states, from the evidence it has seen so far,  it wants “to see the Need to Sell Scheme working—effectively and fairly—long before the end of the Select Committee process.” Although it admits “applicants may have to accept some element of detriment, there must be “substantial improvements.” The report states that the primary aim of the scheme must be to give many residents the confidence to stay, ensuring continuity and coherence within their communities.”

The Committee also confirms that they have not ruled out the possibility of implementing a property bond scheme if “such improvements are not forthcoming.” This is welcome news to many.

The full response can be read here

Nick Hurd Electronic Signature

HS2 Debate in Parliament

March 26, 2015


Yesterday there was a debate in Parliament on HS2, one of the last debates in Parliament. John Randall, Dominic Grieve and I took the opportunity to argue that we needed more evidence and less assertion in the case for HS2 and that we need a serious response from HS2 to the proposed tunnel extension. We also got the chance to criticise the current compensation package which ignores property blight and takes no account of construction.

We welcomed the Minister’s confirmation during the debate that the Heathrow spur is dead and it is not needed which the Minister, Robert Goodwill MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Department of Transport, also confirmed this to us after the debate.

We are now in the critical phase. I do not know if HS2 will go ahead but my priority is to protect the area. I have never voted for HS2 and I have made it clear that I will vote against it at the next stage – if we do not get the protection we are petitioning for. I therefore welcomed the opportunity to debate this important issue one last time in Parliament before the General Election is called.

Please also see below the relevant extracts from the debate:

Nick’s intervention during Cheryl Gillan’s speech on compensation and the need to sell scheme;

Cheryll Gillan (Amersham) …It was only this year, after five years, that the compensation for my constituents and “the need to sell” scheme were finally settled. People are still battling with complex bureaucracy, form-filling and unacceptable questioning. I have the distinct impression that lifestyle judgments are being made about people who apply for compensation. It should be none of the Department’s business what lifestyle anyone chooses to pursue. The decision should not really depend on what other assets they have, because it is the asset in question—usually their home—that is affected. The Department should accept the need to sell without making onerous demands for personal details.

Mr Nick Hurd (Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner) (Con): I wholly endorse what my right hon. Friend is saying about the “need to sell” scheme. Do her constituents feel the frustration that is felt deeply in Ickenham and Harefield about the fact that the current compensation proposals take no account of blight associated with construction? When we are dealing with huge construction sites that will be in operation 24/7 for up to 10 years, that is a very real problem.

Mrs Gillan: I agree entirely. I have been talking for too long. I was hoping to finish earlier than this, but I have been generous in giving way, so I have not been able to cover all the points that I hope others will cover. When I did the fly-through, which is a bird’s-eye view of the whole line of the route, it showed clearly what would happen after the line had been built, but it failed to take into account what would happen in the wider swathe of agony that would be cut through our countryside. That has to be explored in far more detail.

And The Government’s assurances the Heathrow Spur has been dropped:

Mr Grieve (Beaconsfield): I am very grateful that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport announced that the Heathrow spur would effectively not go ahead. That removes a great deal of potential blight from my constituency and it is quite clear that it was not needed. However, parts of the bits of the junctions and other infrastructure still remain in the Bill, which worries me about the potential for blight. I hope that the Minister will reassure me that the necessary steps will be taken to ensure that such potential for blight is removed from the Bill.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Robert Goodwill): I give my right hon. and learned Friend that reassurance now.

Mr Grieve: I am very grateful to my hon. Friend. That will be well received in my constituency.

The full transcript of the debate can be read here

my speech here HS2 westminster hall March 2015 2docx