Transport Questions: HS2 “tragic for many people”

In Transport questions on 23rd February 2017, HS2 dominated the early questions:

From Hansard:

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con)

1. What steps are being taken to prepare for the construction phase of High Speed 2 phase 1. [908838]

The Secretary of State for Transport (Chris Grayling)HS2 Ltd let the early works contract for activities such as demolitions, site clearances and species translocations in November 2016, with work commencing after Royal Assent—you will be aware, Mr Speaker, that earlier this week the Bill passed its last stages prior to Royal Assent. The main works civil contracts to construct the main physical works for the railway, including tunnels, viaducts and embankments, are due to be let later this year. The initial works on the project will begin shortly after Royal Assent. I have been very clear that through the construction phase I expect HS2 Ltd and my Department to do everything we can to ensure that the impact of construction on those affected is mitigated wherever possible.

Mrs Gillan
It is ironic that I should have drawn the first Transport question on the day the Bill for phase 1 of HS2 gets Royal Assent. Although some people are crowing and backslapping each other about it, let us remember that it is tragic for many people. The impact is disproportionately felt by my local authorities, such as Buckinghamshire County Council, and our parish councils, such as Great Missenden. Will my right hon. Friend reassure me, my constituents and my excellent councils that the Department for Transport will reimburse parish, county and district councils for any reasonable expenses incurred as a result of the construction of this dreadful project, HS2?

Chris Grayling
I am well aware that when a project of such national importance is constructed, it inevitably has an effect on some of those who live on the route. I reiterate that we will do everything we can to ensure that the process is as reasonable and fair as possible for those affected. With regard to local authorities, I give my right hon. Friend that assurance and repeat the assurances made in the debate on Monday by the  Under-Secretary of State for Transport, my hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Andrew Jones). HS2 is putting service-level agreements in place with every single local authority along the line of route to set out the additional funding that we will make available for the new railway line’s construction process.

Mrs Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op)
I welcome Royal Assent being given to this much needed investment, but how will the Secretary of State ensure that the promises made about jobs and training opportunities during the construction of High Speed 2 actually materialise?

Chris Grayling
I take this very seriously. We have been very clear when letting contracts—most recently in the information that we put into the market about rolling stock—that we expect this project to leave a lasting skills footprint not just in the areas of construction but around the United Kingdom. A number of events have been held for potential suppliers to the project around the UK, and we have been very clear with all firms, both UK and international, that want to bid to be part of it that we expect them to leave that footprint. It is an essential part of the project.

Mr Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) (Lab)
Is the Secretary of State aware that because of the decision to have a station at Sheffield, we will have two HS2 lines running through Derbyshire: a fast track and a slow track? Many villages throughout Bolsover will be affected as a result. There is one in particular, Newton, where more than 30 houses are due to be demolished. Will he meet a group of residents from that village to try to sort this matter out?

Chris Grayling
I am aware of the issue the hon. Gentleman refers to. I give him the same assurance that I just gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan): we will do our best to minimise impacts. The Minister alongside me, my hon. Friend the Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough, will answer these questions in more detail in the Adjournment debate tonight. Either he or I will also meet residents to discuss the issue.

Dr Rupa Huq (Ealing Central and Acton) (Lab)
Some of the homes on the route that are worst affected are in East Acton, which faces 10 years of construction disruption, 24/7. Their gardens have been compulsorily purchased and the main access route is to be blocked. HS2’s QC called my residents “tedious” for pointing out that they do not qualify for compensation under the rural support scheme and that unlike Camden they have not been granted exceptional status. I am encouraged to hear that the Secretary of State is putting emphasis on mitigation, because all my constituents have been offered is express purchase. Will he urgently meet them and the London Borough of Ealing? These people just want to preserve their suburban way of life and not be ridden roughshod over.

Chris Grayling
It is important that I remind the hon. Lady and reiterate what I said. The matters relating to her constituency—the routes through London and the route on phase 1—have been exhaustively examined, not simply by my Department but by Committees of  this House and the other place. Although we will always be open to representations about ways in which we can minimise impact, these issues have been exhaustively dealt with by this Parliament.

HS2: A4010 Plan

Mr Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con)
4. When HS2 Ltd plans to produce a route management improvement and safety plan for the A4010.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Andrew Jones)
HS2 Ltd anticipates that draft route management improvement and safety plans, including that for Buckinghamshire covering the A4010, will be available for discussion and consultation with highway authorities in March.

Mr Baker
That is great news. I am glad that the people of Wycombe, Aylesbury and Buckingham will have an opportunity to scrutinise this essential emergency route. Will my hon. Friend take steps to enhance the safety of the route?

Andrew Jones
My hon. Friend makes an important point. Safety is critical as we go into the delivery phase of HS2. As a result of the petitioning process, the Secretary of State has committed to contributing £480,000 for permanent safety measures along the A4010 and A4129 in Buckinghamshire. The Government have also created a £30 million road safety fund for HS2, the details of which we will be announcing very shortly.

8 comments to “Transport Questions: HS2 “tragic for many people””
  1. Trying to find the cost budget for phase 1 is like wading through treacle.

    Even the official briefing for MPs is uncertain—

    —On expenditure, it said that Phase 1 is currently forecast to cost £27.384 billion, exceeding available funding by £204 million

    —-This cost estimate is different to the funding envelope provided by the Government in response to a December 2016 parliamentary question, when it said that the current funding for Phase 1 (with contingency) is £24.3 billion.

    I may be old fashioned but I am used to working to a budget and we must be clear what that is for phase 1 or how can we assess expenditure?

  2. The UK driven by sentiment makes mega mistakes by ministers, whipping and MPs of rhetoric not relevant deep experience Fake Governance

    The HS2 is current display of so much expense by so few for so few to afford of find useful whilst so many commuters get bo relief. Bank crash, austerity now self inflicted economic pain from the wrong train.

  3. HM Treasury did not protect the nation avoid the Bank deregulation abuses. Will the HM Treasury Mandarins help the nation avoid the HS2 project wasteful debt allocation please. No time to stand back and watch the MPs wrong decision result in another bad grim outcome for the population to continue the slide into a failing state.

  4. This project is not investment it is wasted time and debt and squandering opportunities for more worthy and better projects for the people. Mrs May did not demonstrate the ability to say no it is not the right project.

  5. Royal assent to spending st least 56,000,000,000 seems to have passed by relatively unnoticed or commented on by national media yet they are all shouting about underfunding of NHS,elderly care,education,prisons,etc,etc
    Where is Swampy?

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