HS2 Autumn Newsletter article

There continues to be a huge, nationwide debate about HS2 – in the Lords and the Commons, in the Press, on Question Time, on social media.

Lord Framlingham and Dennis Skinner MP, have made impassioned pleas for a rethink on HS2 and many other MPs are questioning the scheme, especially as more communities are discovering how they will be affected.

http://stophs2.org/news/17038-lord-framlington-afraid-truth-hs2

http://stophs2.org/news/17134-dennis-skinner-government-get-real-reassess-hs2

 

There has also been much discussion as contractors have been appointed, the Phase 2 route was announced, and HS2 Ltd’s 2016/17 Annual Report and Accounts were published.

 

HS2 Costs and Annual Report and Accounts:

On 17 July Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, appeared in the Commons to make a speech following the publication of a written statement.

He fended off criticisms of the projected £56bn cost of the HS2 high-speed rail line in an unusual late-night ministerial statement sparked by MPs’ disquiet over the government’s handling of the project. Mr Grayling was forced to come to the House of Commons after 10pm to make a formal announcement after MPs complained about the government issuing details of the plans. “HS2 will be the new backbone of the UK rail network,” Mr Grayling told the Commons. “It will transform the  network from one built for the 19th century into one designed for the 21st century.”

“There will be concern about how HS2 will affect homes, communities and businesses along the route, but I am determined that we will engage extensively with everyone affected and that we will show fairness, compassion and respect.”

See the statement in full at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/hs2-update-phase-2a-and-phase-2b

 

Mr Grayling has also said it is “incredible, inconceivable and simply nonsense” to suggest that the cost of the 351-mile line is set to spiral. “This project has a cost attached of £55.7 billion for the whole thing, it is currently on time and on budget and I expect it to stay that way.”

 

The HS2 Annual Report and Accounts, published 19 July 2017, showed that the company spent £500million in the year to March 31 2017 – up almost 30 per cent from £352.9million the year before. It takes the total amount spent by HS2 so far to more than £1.9billion since 2009.

Separate accounts published by the Department for Transport also showed it has spent another £366million on HS2. The bulk of this was on compensating individuals and businesses who own property and land near the planned line.

 

HS2 has already cost taxpayers almost £2.3billion before a single piece of track has been laid; this while the Department for Transport has just cancelled much needed plans to electrify rail lines in the Midlands, Wales and the North.

 

Contractors:

Also on the 17 July Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham, thanked the Secretary of State for appearing in the House and asked of the £6.6 billion being awarded to contractors: “ just by glancing at recent news reports, we see that Strabag, an Austrian firm, is pulling out of a hydroelectric plant contract in Bosnia, having sought to increase the contract price. Skanska UK has revealed major project cost overruns and write-downs of £33 million. Costain has yet to reach a settlement for a private finance initiative project contract with the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, where it has already incurred £15 million of losses. Last December the Health and Safety Commission confirmed that Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd was being prosecuted for three incidents that took place during the construction of the Crossrail tunnel. That is in addition to Carillion’s well documented financial problems, which mean that it is having to restructure. Can he confirm that he knew about all those matters, that he has carried out due diligence on those companies, and that the taxpayer is not in reality carrying unacceptable risks on the construction of HS2?”

To which the answer, of course, was “We of course monitor the fitness for contracts of all the companies we award contracts to.” ……… so that must mean we can all relax…..

https://www.cherylgillan.co.uk/news/hs2-concept-reality

 

Meanwhile in Ickenham…

Local Environmental Management Plan:

On the 5 July HS2 published plans setting out the site-specific control measures for HS2 contractors working within local authorities along the Phase One route. The Hillingdon Plan can be seen at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/624675/hillingdon_local_environmental_management_plan.pdf

Harvil Road and diversion of gas mains:

The first Ickenham HS2 works have started with area wide ecological surveys. These will be followed by site clearance in advance of gas main diversion works at two sites to the east of Harvil Road, one near the bridge over the Chiltern Line and one near the Dogs’ Trust.

These diversions, of one 48” and one 18” gas mains, are necessary to clear the way for building the HS2 route. HS2 have assured us that there will be no disruption of gas supplies.

The site clearance and survey work will be completed by the HS2 Early Works Contractors followed by diversion works by Cadent Gas (formerly part of National Grid). These works will continue from September 2017 to November 2018 and will significantly add to the number of vehicles using Harvil Road.

 

Air Pollution:

Our invitation to Sadiq Khan, to visit the area to see for himself the problems which HS2 will create, has not yet been accepted but, to be fair, he has had a lot of high priority things to deal with over the last few months.

 

HS2 Traffic Congestion:

Our HS2 group continues to meet the Council officers who, in turn, continue to meet HS2 Ltd and Transport for London in an attempt to progress to a final agreement about how to deal with the extra traffic caused by HS2 vehicles. At the moment the HS2 Engagement Team seem sure that putting signals on Swakeleys Roundabout will solve all the problems.

 

HS2 Engagement Team:

On 4th July the HS2 group attended another frustrating meeting with the HS2 Engagement Team and again it was so evident how little they understand our area. There were no straightforward answers, any answer is caveated and so many decisions depend upon the contractors. Many of our questions were taken away with a promise to contact us once they have answers; at the end of July, despite reminders being sent to them, we are still waiting.

 

The Agreement between LBH and HS2 Ltd, which was drafted days before our petitions to the House of Lords Select Committee in November, has yet to be signed, This agreement should provide us with assurances for some mitigation against the impacts of the construction activities; the Contractors that have now been appointed for different sections of the track have sixteen months to complete their detailed designs and should take previous assurances into account. We have concerns that new members of HS2 do not understand the issues we have been fighting for six years and we have asked for meeting with the Contractors so they hear firsthand the residents’ concerns.

 

Much more information:

This ‘Ickenham Calling’ report (as at the time of writing, 26 July 2017) covers just a small part of all the discussions and documents published since the Summer edition.

To keep up-to-date you can find 100s of documents within the HS2 website:

www.gov.uk/government/organisations/high-speed-two-limited

and on the STOP HS2 website: http://stophs2.org

as well as all the many articles in the press and on TV.

26 July 2017