Copy of HS2 Action Group Email

This email is being sent to those who have indicated that they would like to be kept informed on the High Speed Rail preferred route.  Apologies if you receive it from more than one source, and please do let us know if you would rather not receive any further emails.

Some of you are very keen to be actively involved and we want to get all those people together to agree how this should be taken forward and by whom.  It’s already becoming a lot clearer how we may best be able to help create an effective voice. We have set out below an update and thoughts on the next steps.

This email contains details of a meeting we are holding at 6pm on Sunday 18th April in Quainton Memorial Hall. This is NOT another public meeting but an opportunity for those who wish to be involved to see how they can help.

1. BACKGROUND

A. Update on High Speed Rail
It is interesting to note that some three weeks after the announcement some of those who hailed this route as the right approach in both politics and the media are already beginning to step back and re-evaluate their position. The potential impact of the route is clearly becoming better appreciated.

B. Exceptional Hardship Scheme
The EHS and in particular its consultation period are getting greater focus. Details are available on the website ( http://hs2action.co.uk ) to help residents know to whom they should write on the scheme and by when (20th May latest).

C. Preparing for the Consultation
The whole process may change with the general election result but it’s important to plan and organise for the autumn consultation now.

2. NEXT STEPS

A. Issue Focused Policy Groups
The South Northants Action Group have taken the lead in getting sub-committees formed to tackle issues which all those affected down the line will need to address in the autumn consultation.

B. National Co-ordination
South Northants formed their groups as a local initiative and have recruited an impressive team. Their team includes people with skills and experience to raise concerns effectively in the consultation but also many whose objective is simply to help at a local level within their own community. They need help, and united we will be far more effective. We therefore hope that those from elsewhere on the proposed route with something to offer – and that’s potentially a great many people – will wish to get involved and pool resources.

C. Pooling Resources
In order to get us working together with action groups from other areas we intend to facilitate a meeting at 6pm on Sunday, 18th April in Quainton Memorial Hall, some of the South Northants Group have kindly agreed to attend, together with some representatives from the Chilterns area.

D. Immediate Activity
We know there are people keen to get on immediately and not wait until the 18th April. Where individuals have kindly provided details of a particular area in which they can be of assistance we intend to link them with those who are already engaged in that part of the project by email prior to the meeting on the 18th. If you didn’t make this clear at the end of the meeting – but would like to help -please do come on the 18th or let us know if you cannot attend and we will advise you how to get in contact with the right people.

E. Where can I help?
In order to help people work out how they could help, we have set out below the areas on which the groups formed are focused and a brief explanation. Some like the Technical Team clearly require specialist expertise. Others like “Conservation” are invaluable but require no technical expertise whatsoever. Please have a think through what you can contribute or may like to get involved in prior to the 18th.

3. AREAS OF FOCUS FOR DIFFERENT GROUPS

Group Administration and Development (including Media and Communication)
Establishment of a database and national website and intranet linking in to local sites.
Establishment of local PR reps and national press contact points.
Drawing up of funding campaign and PR Strategy – appointing external advice if required.

Community Liaison
Working with Parish, District and County Councils at a local level to keep people informed and involved.
Involving the local community
Helping the infrastructure of organising events eg putting up walkers on the planned walk down the line or organising (and filling!) buses for local residents to attend meetings en masse.

Law & Policy
Understanding the legal framework of the consultations, any public enquiry and subsequent legislation.
Drawing up strategy for the consultations.
Political strategy.
Establishing a legal campaigning group which can accept and spend funds.

Business Group
Understanding the impact of HS2 on the local economy of the areas through which it is expected to pass, including impact on small businesses, farming, tourism and the local economy and the wider UK economy.

Economic and Financial
The case for HS2.
The likely cost and likely return.
Whether the project is value for money and the extent of any taxpayer subsidy.
The costs of HS2 vrs the benefits ascribed (both economic and environmental)
Affordability of HS2 in the context of total Government resources and other infrastructure projects.

Conservation & Heritage
The impact of the route on areas of historic and national importance (woodlands, wetlands, ancient monuments, battlegrounds): understanding and assessing impact of route on SSSIs, wildlife and local ecosystems.
Contacting and co-ordinating with conservation bodies.
The first task may be best achieved by groups, county by county, on an agreed consistent basis, the latter through a national Conservation steering group. Information – numbers of sites etc impacted by the route will provide ammunition for the PR campaign.

Technical
Appreciating all technical aspects of the project.
Understanding and evaluating the environmental impact (to assist the media group and mitigation group).
Appreciating technical “flex” in project eg impact on speed or a more environmentally sensitive route along existing infrastructure.

Mitigation
If HS2 does happen how can the impact on local communities be minimized. In particular a substantial amount of work has already been undertaken on noise impact and abatement.
What are the lessons learned from HS1 and how can we ensure they are applied.
Technical mitigation during construction.
What is fair compensation?

Please do forward this email to anyone you think might be able to help with the action group.
In addition to this local email list, you can also sign up for a general hs2action email list at http://hs2action.co.uk/mailing-list.

We welcome whatever contribution you can make – even posting a few flyers or attending public meetings makes a difference.  We hope to see many of you on Sunday 18th April in Quainton.

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