As anyone along the HS2 rail route knows, HS2 Ltd and their contractors are acting like they can do whatever they want, wherever they want. The thing is they can’t. Well, let’s put that another way: they shouldn’t be able to, but more often than not they are getting away with it.
What we are specifically interested in is where HS2 have been doing things they promised they wouldn’t, we’re not talking about things like wildlife crimes which were a large part of Chris Packhams challenge, but more specific and easier to evidence physical impacts. Very specifically, we are looking at things which HS2 are doing that are contradictory to the original environmental statement, and works that are taking place outside the original ‘Act Limits’, also known as the ‘Book of Reference’ or deposited plans. We are also bringing up the issue of fraud by abuse of position in two distinct ways: landowners who haven’t been paid; and clearly deliberate fabrications and deceptions surrounding the case for HS2, but more on that later. Please note, this is NOT about Wildlife Crimes
So we’d like to know where in your area HS2 Ltd think they are getting away with it, as we have a permission hearing for a Judicial Review coming up soon, and we need more evidence. The great thing is, we expect that a lot of it already exists, whether it is sitting on computers in council offices, photos taken on your phones, or complaints already submitted.
Well we need it, and we need it sent to email@example.com by Tuesday March 9th.
Back in 2013, HS2 Ltd produced an Environmental Statement (ES). The ES was billed as at over 50,000 pages, “Being the most comprehensive environmental study ever conducted in the UK”. Well it may have been the largest, but was certainly not the most comprehensive as it contained many errors, but of course saying it was wrong at the time, no matter how obvious that was, was a subjective thing, no something which could be proved.
However, now it is obvious everywhere you look. HS2 Ltd specified where they would have construction compounds, which roads would be used for their traffic and which ones would be closed, where they would be cutting down trees and hedges and where they would be replacing them. In all of those cases, it is clear that HS2 Ltd are breaking their promises. Why that’s important is that in a couple of different legal cases so far when people have challenged the environmental credentials of HS2, the judges have said that everything was considered in the environmental statement, but that’s the environmental statement which HS2 and their contractors break every day. And that’s all those things like construction routs, road closures and compound sites were in the ES, because they have a very distinct, definable and if they are in the ES, evaluated carbon impact. If they weren’t in the ES, they weren’t assessed, meaning HS2 Ltd are not only effectively breaking their own law, they are creating carbon emissions which are unquantified in the environmental case for the project.
So we want to know where there are construction compounds that weren’t in the environmental statement or the subsequent additional provisions, which roads they are using or closing that the said they wouldn’t, where they are removing trees and hedges that were meant to survive. With that last one, we’ve found that HS2 Ltd could be in double the trouble. The Act of Parliament that made HS2 phase 1 a law disapplied various other bits of legislation. To put it another way, there are for example the 1997 Hedgerows Regulations which protect hedges, but they don’t count if they are in the way of HS2. But this is ONLY the case for land which is in the “Act Limits”, i.e. land that they always said they were going to need. What we’ve found is that HS2 Ltd are cutting stuff down that is outside the Act Limits, and pretending that that’s OK, because they have decided they have the power to do what they want, wherever they want. This simply is not true. Outside the Act Limits, all normal laws apply, and famously such was the arrogance of HS2 Ltd that Hillingdon Council even had to take them to court to insist that they needed planning permission for work beyond Act Limits.
So what we are looking for is very specific and indisputable physical impacts that are impossible to dispute, such as: compounds which were not in the ES*; road closures not originally planned or for longer than previously stated; the use of roads or increased use of roads for construction vehicles above what was promised and the removal of vegetation beyond the plans in the ES*. Also, HS2 Ltd are not allowed to allow discharge of site run-off to ditches, watercourses, drains, sewers or soakaways without the agreement of the appropriate authority, or have night time working without prior notification.
*And the Additional Provisions (see below).
SO NOW WHAT?
For purposes of the ES, phase one of HS2 was split up into 26 ‘Community Forum Areas’, which roughly run from South to North, though inexplicably the one which should come after 18 is actually 23! Below are links to the relevant documents, but read on first.
If you were around in 2013, you will remember the unbridled joy that was sifting though the Environmental Statement! Well don’t worry, it’s not so bad this time as whilst the ES Reports are still as overly wordy and incomprehensible as they ever were, there is no point in looking at the whole thing, as we are only interested in promises that were made that impact the construction phase, which in the case of the reports is pretty much just the traffic movements.
The maps are a bit more involved. Importantly, as HS2 Ltd got things massively wrong and left bits out, they had to issue five sets of ‘Additional Provisions” to amend bits of the original maps. In most cases the Additional Provisions were minor and didn’t cover an entire area of each CFA, but it’s always worth checking. Also, not all of the AP map documents follow the same format. With AP5, one documents covers all the areas that got amendments.
Each area has two maps of interest there is a map mostly marked with pink, brown and orange and one with landscaping and planting marked in green. With these maps, the orange boxes mark the location of the planned construction compounds. If you have a construction compound in your area that is not marked in the ES or AP maps, we want to know. With the green maps (in rural areas), if trees and hedges which were meant to be untouched (i.e. they are marked in white on the map) have been removed, we want to know about that too, with photographs and locations in both cases.
Please send your evidence to firstname.lastname@example.org by Tuesday March 9th.
You may spot other issues that have not been covered here. The key with the evidence we are after is that it should be physical evidence that is easy to demonstrate and breaches the plans as set out in the ES (and APs).
CFA1 Euston station and approach
CFA2 Camden Town
CFA3 Primrose Hill to Kilburn
CFA4 Kilburn (Brent) to Old Oak Common
CFA5 Northolt Corridor
CFA6 South Ruislip to Ickenham
CFA7 Colne Valley
CFA8 The Chalfonts and Amersham
CFA9 Central Chilterns
CFA10 Dunsmore, Wendover and Halton
CFA11 Stoke Mandeville and Aylesbury
CFA12 Waddesdon and Quainton
CFA13 Calvert, Steeple Claydon, Twyford and Chetwode
CFA14 Newton Purcell to Brackley
CFA15 Greatworth to Lower Boddington
CFA16 Ladbroke and Southam
CFA17 Offchurch and Cubbington
CFA18 Stoneleigh, Kenilworth and Burton Green
CFA19 Coleshill Junction
CFA20 Curdworth to Middleton
CFA 21 – Drayton Bassett, Hints and Weeford
CFA22 Whittington to Handsacre
CFA23 Balsall Common and Hampton-in-Arden
CFA24 Birmingham Interchange and Chelmsley Wood
CFA25 Castle Bromwich and Bromford
CFA26 Washwood Heath to Curzon Street