Update from David Liddington MP to constituents
I thought you would welcome an update on the HS2 Scheme.
As you are likely to be aware, the HS2 Select Committee has now starting sitting and will begin to hear from petitioners in September. The Select Committee have announced that they will hear petitions on a regional basis and will begin by hearing petitions from the Birmingham area before working south along the route. I do not believe it is likely that any petitions from Buckinghamshire will be heard until early 2015 at the very soonest.
I submitted two petitions (petition numbers 1012 and 1013). One of the petitions was a joint petition with Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham, which specifically calls for an extended bored tunnel through the Chilterns AONB. The second petition covers wider constituency issues including compensation and traffic issues as well as specific mitigation requests for Dunsmore, Wendover Dean, Wendover, Stoke Mandeville, Aylesbury and Fairford Leys.
The HS2 Select Committee has a website where details of its public sessions are published as well as transcripts of its deliberations. The Committee’s website address is below.
Both STOP HS2 and the HS2 Action Alliance had their locus standi (right to appear before the Committee) challenged by HS2 Ltd. Following this announcement I wrote to Robert Syms MP, Chair of the Select Committee, to urge him to reject the Department for Transport’s challenges and I am pleased that the Select Committee decided to hear both the Action Alliance and STOP HS2’s petitions.
If you have submitted a petition I would encourage you to try and watch some of the Committee’s proceedings before you are due to appear before the Committee to try and get an understanding for how the Committee operates. I am happy to speak to any petitioner from my constituency about appearing in front of the Committee once we have greater clarity on when petitions from Buckinghamshire will be heard.
Turning to compensation, the Department for Transport has now announced a further consultation which closes on 30 September. The consultation document and details of how to respond can be viewed at the below link or alternatively I am happy to send you a hard copy.
The consultation specifically covers compensation for those who typically live 60 to 300m from HS2. The Department for Transport now proposes to offer people living 60 to 120m from HS2 the right to require the Government to purchase the property for its unblighted value or, alternatively, a cash payment to remain in their property. For those living 120 to 300m from the line a cash payment is proposed to provide some recognition of the loss that these people will suffer as a result of HS2. People living 120 – 300m from the line would not be able to require the Government to buy their property, though of course you could seek such improvements in your response to the consultation.
The Secretary of State for Transport has also confirmed that a Need to Sell Scheme will replace the Exceptional Hardship Scheme by the end of year. The Secretary of State has also said that the Need to Sell Scheme will be more generous than the Exceptional Hardship Scheme, however, until any detailed guidance is produced it is difficult to say who will be eligible.
I will be responding to the consultation and would encourage you to also respond to ensure your views are taken into account. I have already scheduled a meeting with the HS2 Action Alliance to discuss the proposals and have requested a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport. I will also be speaking to local action groups, Parish Councils and individual constituents about the proposals to ensure I reflect their views as well as my own in my response.
Finally, on 31 July I took Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 Ltd, on a tour of the constituency to show him some of the areas that will be affected by HS2. In the limited time available I took Sir David to London Road, Bacombe Lane, St Mary’s Church, Ellesborough Road and Nash Lee Lane in Wendover, to Old Risborough Road in Stoke Mandeville, to Oat Close in Hawkslade, to the Oxford Road and to Fairford Leys. I introduced him to key local HS2 campaigners who explained to him in detail the concerns and worries of local residents about HS2.
I was pleased that Sir David accepted my invitation to come to the constituency and listen to the concerns of local people and I will be following up my visit with a letter to Sir David encouraging him to make changes to the scheme before petitions from Buckinghamshire are heard to ensure the impact of HS2 on the local area, both during construction and operation, is minimal.
I will continue to keep you updated as the HS2 Hybrid Bill progresses through Parliament.
Member of Parliament for Aylesbury