WendoverHS2 response to the HS2 Parliamentary Select Committee Chairman’s comments in their final public session 5pm on 22nd February 2016. Unfortunately the Select Committee report was not published until around 11pm on their stated publication date, which indicates to us the disdain in which Petitioners are held, and the lack of empathy with the anxieties resulting from HS2.
We are deeply disappointed but, regrettably, not surprised by the House of Commons HS2 Select Committee comments today which has so far failed to recommend extending the Chiltern Tunnel throughout the whole length of the A.O.N.B to the North of Wendover.
As one of the largest communities directly on the HS2 route, Wendover is being affected disproportionately by the scheme. A massive civil engineering project will cut through the heart of the village, yet Wendover will have the least level of mitigation spent per affected household along the route. In the vicinity the proposal is for two viaducts each 500 metres long and a height of 15 metres joined by a massive embankment over 1km long all sitting within the A.O.N.B.
The evidence presented by the local community to the Select Committee over the past six months covered wide ranging impacts on the local area on hydrogeology, noise, transport disruption and damage to local business, as well as a gross visual impact on the Chilterns AONB. HS2 Ltd has demonstrated gross incompetence in failing to adequately address these issues.
The community’s case was that an extended tunnel would solve virtually all of the above issues at little additional cost; in response, HS2 Ltd. issued a string of inflated cost estimates, unsupported by any evidence. In concert, virtually every governmental body in the Chilterns AONB area requested that HS2 Ltd ask their contractors for a fully bored tunnel be priced as an alternative to the HS2 Ltd above-ground scheme. This request for an independent pricing has been rejected by The Chief Executive of HS2.
Despite some brave independent voices on the committee, HS2 Ltd’s blatant attempt to filibuster the process appears to have won the day. The committee have failed to consider the evidence put to them, see through the shocking HS2 cost estimating process (presented by lawyers, not engineers) and failed to follow through its own recommendations made in July last year.
The HS2 QC comment that the Hybrid Bill process had proved by, the standards of fairness and inquiry, to be as good as a public inquiry, is a bad joke. The HS2 Q.C also claimed that there had been unfailing courtesy by the Select committee to the Petitioners. We beg to disagree because at times some members of the Select Committee had been exceptionally rude, bullying and disruptive as Petitioners presented their case. The HS2 Q.C’s and their experts regularly sought to belittle the Petitioners and their evidence.
Given the government’s headlong rush to construct this White Elephant project and the sham of the petitioning process, the community have no choice but to resort to European institutions to at least ensure proper environmental impact assessment processes are followed.
The community are now following up the HS2 Action Alliance AARHUS challenge and are considering taking their case back to the European courts.
Meanwhile, the community suffers blight and affected homeowners, businesses and farmers continue to fight for fair compensation, which at present has been revealed by the Select Committee to be wanting.