The Government have published details of ‘Additional Provision 2’, the first set of significant changes to the Phase 1 route of HS2, which adds a total of £579,593,000 (in 2011 prices) to the overall official bill, which now stands at £50.7bn. However, this figure may not stay the official cost for long, as The Times has reported that the Treasury is recalculating the cost of HS2 based on prices as they would be in 2018, when construction would be likely to start if they project receives Royal Assent.
The bulk of the increase in cost is made up of two main elements: a change in design to the route at Lichfield, meaning HS2 will go under the A38 at a cost of £133m; and moving the Heathrow Express depot to Iver near Slough, at a cost of £215m. Whilst communities along Phase 1 of the route had four years to prepare for petitioning, those near this proposed depot will now have just four weeks to get up to speed with the archaic procedure of petitioning, and physically deposit any petitions to Parliament by August 14th.
In addition to AP2, the Government has produced a suite of documents which make up the Supplementary Environmental Statement (SES). The original Environmental Statement consisted of over 50,000 pages and was widely criticised for being inadequate and inaccurate. As a result the SES, which mainly aims to correct the mistakes in the original document, is 8751 pages long.
Whilst many areas along Phase 1 do not have substantial changes proposed in AP2, almost everywhere is subject to the changes in impact made in the SES. Given that most people who petitioned against provisions complained about the original Environmental Statement at the time, we believe people will have a right to be heard about the contents of the SES.
However, whilst the original ES was published months before the original petitioning period, people will have just four weeks to trawl through the SES and include any points in their petitions. There will be a separate consultation on the SES, which is due to end on 28th August.
Besides the movement of the Heathrow Express Depot and the route around Lichfield, the changes covered in AP2 only cover areas containing petitioners who were heard before the General Election. It is expected that there will be at least another two further sets of additional provisions, one of which will cover a redesign of the plans for Euston Station, which are expected to include closing a third of the tracks running into the station for around a decade.
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“With the swish of a pen, six hundred million has been added to the bill for HS2, with very few people seeing any benefits from the changes, and for many the scheme has got worse. With it now turning out that The Treasury are looking at a more realistic estimate for how much HS2 will cost, opposed to what it would have cost if it had all been built four years ago, the numbers for this white elephant are surely going to get more eye-watering and more unaffordable.”
“Besides the welcome changes around Lichfield, the Government have mainly announced some minor tinkering to the route which increases the land-take of HS2 and goes nowhere near addressing the concerns of communities along the line. The worst part of this announcement they have dumped plans for a new Heathrow Express depot on Slough, completely usurping normal planning procedure and removing the need for any public consultation. HS2 Ltd must have known they were planning to do this ages ago, but instead of letting anyone know, they have sprung it out at the last minute, which is typical of the high-handed attitude we have come to expect.”
“HS2 have this week produced a series of documents, mostly to correct a series of errors they previously made, but the public will only have 4 weeks to get through almost nine thousand pages. We encourage as everyone not only to look at the changes in the additional provision, but also to try and digest the new environmental information and submit petitions to Parliament accordingly.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said:
“Anyone can respond to the consultation on the Environmental Statement, no matter where they live. With the Additional Provisions, it’s really important that people check the maps and other information to see whether they are affected. In particular, people who live in Slough, Landley and Iver should have a good look. You don’t need to live next door to the proposed site of the Heathrow Express Maintenance Depot to petition, as the effects will be felt much more widely than that.”
All the documents relating to AP2 and the SES can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/supplementary-environmental-statement-and-additional-provision-2-july-2015
The Stop HS2 guide to petitioning can be found here: http://stophs2.org/news/10609-stop-hs2-comprehensive-guide-petitioning-hybrid-bill