HS2 Consultation – Make it Count

This is a guest post from VoxOpp.

“It is absolutely vital that villagers should respond to the Department for Transport’s consultation on HS2 by the closing date of 29 July”, was the message from Bernie Douglas, the Chairman of VoxOpp, at a public meeting last Friday (20 May 2011) at Finmere Village Hall.  VoxOpp, an association of local people representing Oxfordshire villages most affected by the plans for HS2, organized the meeting to keep residents informed of the consultation processes under way.

Over 50 people were given an overview on some important details of how to respond to the questions in the consultation, having already heard that VoxOpp’s evidence to the Transport Select Committee’s inquiry into High Speed Rail had been accepted.

Bernie Douglas also advised local residents to visit the HS2 Road show, to be held at Brackley Leisure Centre on 27 and 28 May, and suggested they “ask as many awkward questions as possible, including about the noise issue”.

If current plans for the new ultra high speed railway go ahead, up to 36 trains an hour travelling at speeds of up to 250mph will run through the mile of farmland which separates Finmere and Mixbury.

James Del Mar of Knight Frank, the property consultancy with a team looking into issues related to HS2, then gave the meeting some background and guidelines on compensation.  He told the meeting that, “The Land Compensation Act of 1973(1) was developed nearly 40 years ago and had roots even further back in the past.  Clearly it was never conceived with schemes of this magnitude, and stretching over such a long time period, in mind”.

1. Latest revision of the Act. It still begins “An Act to confer a new right to compensation for depreciation of the value of interests in land caused by the use of highways, aerodromes and other public works . . .” and does not even mention railways. In 1973 it is unlikely that there was a great deal of interest in building new railways as government had been continuing to shut lines down since the Beeching report ten years earlier.

5 comments to “HS2 Consultation – Make it Count”
  1. Has anyone else experienced any errors whilst filling in the consultation form on the website, or is it just me?
    I had to print it out and fill it in by hand because every time I tried online I got a “Task Unsuccessful” error.
    I have been trying to work out why it failed, I tried 100s of times using FF and IE, with two different email addresses, and on two different machines.
    The only other thing I haven’t tried is IP address, maybe because I don’t live along the HS2 route I can’t take part.

  2. I’ve just got back from the Brackley road show. The HS2 staff looked very brow beaten which is hardly surprising after a few weeks of facing a sceptical public. I actually felt quite sorry for them, having to trot out the HS2 corporate spiel which they were clearly uncomfortable with.

    The noise demonstration was unconvincing and when I questioned this, the woman I spoke to said that the trains would not make as much noise as a speeding motorbike.

    On the compensation issue, she said that that a couple of options have been floated in the consultation, and that our feedback would be welcomed. There will be further consultation on this at a later stage, before any schemes are finalised.

    • I am not sure that sympathy is required for HS2 staff. There will be about 30 roadshows in total and any one member of staff is likely to attend just a proportion of them. Some of the members of the public will be quite docile while the periods of pain from better informed visitors will only be brief.

      What about the years of constant noise blight and visual blight that people living close to the line will have to endure for 10, 20 or more years? What about the financial “blight” homeowners will have to suffer for many years? What about the vulnerable members of society who have experienced cuts in care services provided by councils, which need not have occurred if HS2 had been cancelled? What about the average household paying out over £1000 in taxes to pay for such a poor value for money project which benefits so few (mostly well to do) people? There are many people, not just those close to the route, who will experience pain if HS2 goes ahead. A few 15 minute bursts of discomfort spread over 3 months is nothing compared to what many people will have to endure. Furthermore they chose to work for HS2 Ltd or DfT and are getting well paid for it.

      • visual blight

        This is a new one. What does this mean?

        …experienced cuts in care services provided by councils, which need not have occurred if HS2 had been cancelled?

        What’s your source for this claim? Link please.

        • I think what he means is what was once ancient woodland being sliced in half by a concrete,steel and gravel channel which will be visible by a barbed wire security fence.

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