The Leader of Bucks County Council had used a Select Committee hearing at the House of Lords to call for greater compensation to mitigate the impact of HS2.
Martin Tett was one of several local representatives to attend the meeting in Westminster to seek further assurances and to argue that the current offer from the Community and Environment Fund & Business and Local Economy Fund is innadequate. HS2 Limited has said it will provide just £15 million to be shared across six county areas including Bucks.
Mr Tett told the committee that the fund did not properly take into account the length and scale of the project, as well as its long-term impact on residents, communities and businesses along the route.
He argued that the Davies Commission has recommended a £1 billion pound compensation fund for Heathrow expansion and that the HS2 fund was totally disproportional given its length and the long construction period.
The total fund value is £40 million, with £10 million each being allocated to Birmingham and Greater London and the rest shared between Staffordshire and Warwickshire County Councils and several district councils and other local organisations. Mr Tett has called for an increase to £100 million. This is in recognition of the fact that the need in Bucks alone is already at £22 million, according to the county council.
“I suspect the government is aware that the amounts are too low. If the money is prorated for each community, there is a tiny amount of money for them.
“These communities are directly affected by HS2 but get no benefit from it.”
Mr Tett also questioned the committee on reimbursement for the costs the council has incurred as a result of the poor public liaison by HS2 Limited, adding that they had accepted their shortcomings in this department.
According to the council they have spent £110,264 pounds on public engagement on behalf to HS2 to adequately explain the plans, developments and their consequences to residents who were desperate for information.
He also asked for compensation for the loss in Business rates as a result of the construction.
Speaking after the meeting Mr Tett added: “HS2 Limited have spent £2 billion of their £55billion budget without laying down a single inch of track. What we are asking for is peanuts by comparison.”
Some of the specific local issues discussed during the hearing:
Mr Tett told the Lords that there is an existing HGV issue in Iver, Iver Heath and Richings Park as a result of the several public infrastructure projects currently proposed.
The council estimated 1,900 HGV movements a day through the area and said as many as 75 additional HGVs per hour will travel through the area as a result of HS2, causing significant stress to roads as well as communities.
The council asked for the Department for Transport to recognise the unique condition of Iver’s roads, made worse by yesterday’s Heathrow decision, to provide funding for a relief road.
Chalfont St Peter
The HS2 line runs in an underground tunnel along the eastern edge of the village, with a vent shaft in place just off Chesham Lane.
In order to control works traffic, Roberts Road will be shut down for up to 10 years during HS2 construction, but Bucks County council are asking for HS2 to pay the costs for a permanent closure of the narrow road to through traffic.
Chalfont St Peter Parish Council chairman Linda Smith also appeared before the Lords asking for confirmation of the possibility of moving the Tunnel Vent Shaft on Chesham Road away from the edge of the road.
She argued that the two story vent structure would blight the landscape and the moving it slightly further back would allow for landscaping to lessen the impact to the countryside.
Speaking after the meeting Isobel Darby, leader of Chiltern District Council, said they had compromised over many points in the Commons committee and that today they sought written reassurances of the possibilities discussed in meetings with HS2 Limited.
She also said that there is still not adequate provision for traffic management and that she is concerned for road safety particularly for vulnerable users of Robertswood School, the Epilepsy Society and Woodland Manor Care Home, all on roads that will feature heavy works traffic for several years.
The proposal for a haul road to be built from the North Portal of the Chiltern Tunnel to the Link Road roundabout has been met with criticism from local residents and commuters alike.
The site is already a very high traffic area, linking Great Missenden and Prestwood to the A413 and many argue it cannot withstand the additional heavy goods traffic.
The county council put forward their proposal for a link road further north, allowing the traffic to join more safely, at Leather Lane. The council had agreed for an assurance for this however this was later deemed undeliverable.
The council alleged this was down to HS2’s delay in sharing the sift report on the proposal, which meant that it became undeliverable within HS2’s prescribed timescales, therefore noise, blight, safety, air quality and traffic issues are still outstanding.
The council asked for the tunnel at Wendover to be extended an additional 100 metres from the present proposal to avoid issues of noise and blight from the train when operational.
Currently HS2 has proposed six and four meter high noise barriers along the stretch of track to prevent noise leaking to the village.
The council deemed this unacceptable, joking that it has been dubbed locally as ‘the new Berlin Wall’. They argued that the scale of the noise barriers would be a problem and that the existing tunnel being extended further south is the best option.