High Speed 2 overview
Here you will find regular updates and information on HS2 - a high-speed rail line from London to Birmingham - what it means for Aylesbury Vale and what we’re doing in response.
The current situation
On Friday 15 March 2013, the High Court delivered its long-awaited judgment on the five judicial review challenges to the £33 billion HS2 project that were heard during a hearing in December 2012.
The claims were brought by four protest groups, including members of the 51m alliance, campaign group HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA), which represents more than 70 affiliated groups and residents' associations, and Aylesbury Park Golf Club.
The challenge by the HS2 Action Alliance to the lawfulness of the consultation on the discretionary compensation scheme was the only successful claim. The other nine challenges identified in the five separate cases were not upheld. However, Mr Justice Ouseley did give permission for the local authorities to appeal on two grounds.
AVDC, along with other councils involved in the judicial review, decided to appeal on a number of the grounds heard in December 2012. On 24 July 2013, judges dismissed all seven grounds of the challenge but said a final appeal could be made to the Supreme Court.
HS2AA has recently been at the Supreme Court challenging the government’s decision to proceed with HS2 without undertaking a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
HS2AA state that the very fact they have been given the right to appeal to the Supreme Court demonstrates the vital importance of the case, and they believe that had an SEA been undertaken, HS2 would never have been adopted back in 2010.
However, those representing HS2 argued that the EIA regulations cover all relevant requirements, meaning there was no need for an SEA to be carried out. Furthermore, they confirmed that undertaking a SEA would delay the project by 6-12 months, and although a SEA would consider alternative routes, the ‘Optimised Alternatives’, proposed by 51M, would not necessarily be considered.
Seven out of the nine members of the Supreme Court were sitting for the appeal, and a decision is expected in the new year.
Petitioning guidance published on Parliament website
The Private Bill Office in the House of Commons has now published guidance documents about petitioning the HS2 Hybrid Bill. This comprises:
• FAQs on the High Speed 2 Hybrid Bill;
• A brief plain English guide to petitioning and;
• A detailed pack of advice and guidance, including a draft petition template and examples from the Crossrail Bill.
All three documents can be accessed from the Hybrid Bill section on the Parliament website.
Winter 2013: HS2 Environmental Statement consultation
The HS2 Environment Statement was published along with the HS2 Hybrid Bill on 25 November. The Environmental Statement details how HS2 Ltd proposes to deal with the impact of their project on the environment. Through Parliament, the government has to gain feedback on the Environmental Statement in advance of the second reading of the Bill in the House of Commons. Responses to the Environmental Statement will then be considered before the second reading of the HS2 Hybrid Bill. The deadline for responding to this consultation was 27 February 2014.
In the Downloads section (see bottom of this page) you will find a copy of the Buckinghamshire council's response to the Environmental Statement.
Alternative Infrastruture Investment Strategy
In the Downloads section (see bottom of this page) you will find a copy of a recently completed document on behalf of the 51m group of authorities regarding the alternative Infrastructure Investment Strategy, which will be used to advise MPs of the alternatives to HS2 as we move towards the Hybrid Bill process.
Technical Ecology Group established for High Speed Two
An independent group of like-minded organisations, including local authorities, statutory bodies and environmental charities, has been established to ensure that the high speed train route, if it goes ahead, achieves the best possible outcomes for ecology.
Technical Ecology Panel members include:
Aylesbury Vale District Council
Chilterns Conservation Board
Staffordshire County Council
Warwickshire County Council
Download the Group's terms of reference at the bottom of this page.
Buckinghamshire’s Mitigation Blueprint for HS2
The Blueprint for HS2 is the mitigation plan for HS2 through Buckinghamshire. This has been produced by Buckinghamshire County Council in conjunction with the four district councils – Aylesbury Vale, Chiltern District, South Bucks District and Wycombe District.
The Blueprint has been endorsed by The Chilterns Conservation Board, National Trust, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trusts, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership, Buckinghamshire Business First and the National Farmers Union.
More information can be found by clicking on the 'Buckinghamshire's Mitigation Blueprint for HS2' tab on this page.
51m responds to the Department for Transport’s announcement on the HS2 northern route
AVDC is a member of the of 51m alliance actively challenging the HS2 scheme through a national campaign.
We agree with the Prime Minister that what this country needs is investment and growth in our infrastructure but we need it now, not in 2033. Behind the ‘spin’ the reality is that the business case for HS2 has collapsed, the capacity argument has been exposed in the High Court and the economic benefits are not supported by any serious economists. HS2 will cost taxpayers an eye watering £33 billion, equivalent to the country’s entire defence budget, and yet has been shown conclusively to be poor value for money.
Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council and Chairman of the 51m Alliance of 18 local authorities opposed to HS2 said: “There are far better, quicker and cheaper ways of upgrading our existing rail network to provide the capacity needed. These would free up capital to invest in regional road and rail infrastructure projects that people actually need and use around the whole country. This would bring growth and jobs now when they are needed.
“A major concern that we have is that many towns and cities will be shocked to discover that they will actually receive a poorer train service if HS2 is built. Stations such as Toton Sidings and Meadowhall are far from city centres. West Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line services to many existing stations are certain to be reduced. At the same time HS2 will blight the lives, property and businesses of tens of thousands of people. Houses will be unsaleable and jobs lost across the Midlands and elsewhere. Only those directly on the route will receive compensation. Those nearby will have to wait until 2034 at the earliest to see if they get anything.”
The government is pressing ahead with a new high speed rail route that would initially link London to Birmingham (phase 1) and subsequently extend to Manchester and Leeds (phase 2). Ultimately it could extend to Scotland. The government has decided that the linkage to Heathrow Airport will be looked at as part of phase 2.
The route would come up from Amersham, crossing the southern edge of Wendover, Stoke Mandeville and Aylesbury, then running east of Waddesdon before picking up the path of the disused railway line past Quainton, Calvert and proceeding up to the edge of Brackley.
Key features of the high speed rail link
•A new dedicated track linking London to Birmingham with no intermediary stops aimed at reducing journey times by approximately 30 minutes
•Up to 14 trains an hour running at speeds of up to 225mph
•Trains up to 400 metres long and carrying up to 1100 people per train
•Some trains will be maintenance vehicles
•Trains to be powered by electric overhead cables
•Tracks that have gentle gradients requiring construction of embankments, cuttings, tunnels and viaducts
How to find out more
As well as the AVDC website, a wide range of reports and technical material is available on the Department for Transport's website.
Material and reports from the various HS2 summits organised for Bucks communities can also be downloaded from the links below.
If you have any enquiries about this scheme, please contact the Department for Transport on 0300 330 3000.