House of Lords Select Committee Visit to North Bucks

The latest Bucks County Council newsletter describes the recent House of Lords Select Committee Visit to North Bucks:

On the 25 May the House of Lords Select Committee visited areas in the north of Buckinghamshire from Turweston through to Steeple Claydon. Lord Walker (Chairman), Lord Freeman, Baroness O’Cathain and Lord Young were in attendance. Neither Lord Brabazon nor Lord Jones attended. Lord Plant had just resigned from the Committee and Lord Elder had not yet been appointed.

The visit, unlike in the Commons, followed standard, fact finding format, with a small number of people on the bus and no public meetings. A small pack of maps and illustrations was handed out by HS2 Ltd and referred to throughout. Buckinghamshire County Council was not allowed to hand out the brochures produced for the Commons visits.

At Turweston, mention was made of an assurance having been given to the community about the undergrounding of the overhead cables here when they are diverted – but this was subject to cost. Coming into Chetwode, HS2 ltd explained the changes that had been made in the AP in the Commons, reducing the number of individual properties affected from 23 to 13 (but did say that a significant community effect remains. They said the community petitioned for a green tunnel but on consideration HS2 could not justify the cost.

Unfortunately, the bus drove past the church and houses and stopped further on at the Green where there were no houses. We pointed out to the clerk that this was not the best location and in earshot of some of the committee members explained how close the church and houses were to the line. Baroness O’Cathain asked for the population and we found it to be approx 173.

The final stop was at Steeple Claydon where the Committee walked down into a field with a good view overlooking the IMD. HS2 Ltd described the IMD and why it is to be located there. It will be 37ha, have 15.6km of sidings, 300 staff, will receive 300,000 sleepers, 1.25m3 of ballast and it will be 8 years until it is reconfigured to its permanent state. The East West Rail was mentioned and the FCC sidings, as were bats, and it was made clear that there would be a further visit to Calvert. BCC asked them to mention community concerns about coordination with EW Rail, and they mentioned the integration report that had been produced by Network Rail.

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