Over 130 people packed out the Occulus building in Aylesbury for yesterday’s Bucks’s County Council HS2 summit.
The speakers included
- Giles Parker, noise expert from Sound Barrier Solutions Ltd
- Geri Silverstone, National Trust
- Steve Rodrick, from The Chilterns Conservation Board
- Richard Lindop, Construction and Infrastructure expert from Jacobs
- Alison Munro, CEO HS2 Ltd
In addition there was the opportunity for people who would be attending the different community forums to get together and discuss issues, both specific to their own area, and also for the wider Buckinghamshire community.
There was concern that HS2 Ltd were using the community forums as a box-ticking exercise, rather than as a chance to listen to the issues which were important to the local residents.
There were a huge number of issues raised over the course of the day, including the extremely tight timescales which do not allow much time for the environmental surveys which need to be done: as one questioner pointed out, there is only time for one spring season to be monitored.
Some interesting points came out of the presentation on sound.
Giles Parker, from Sound Barrier Solutions Ltd, warned that badly designed sound mitigation is ineffective, and can even increase the amount of noise that is heard in an area. As noise propagates differently in different areas, it is vital to have the relevant information as soon as possible, and to design mitigation methods which will work there. (This is why people have been asking HS2 Ltd for sound contour maps, and why people are so concerned that they have not been made available yet.)
Giles also said that in Germany, Belgium and other European countries, sound barriers are designed to be extremely effective and that we in Britain should expect to have top class sound mitigation, not just second-rate attempts.
Alison Munro said that many of the methods of mitigation would be included as part of the design and not come from the mitigation budget. There was concern that at some community forums, they were told the budget for mitigation was double the official HS2 amount of £250 million: mistakes like these make local people feel that HS2 Ltd are trying to mislead them.
Who decides how this meagre budget is spent?
Hs2 Ltd does … At our initial mitigation local forum the question was asked re the amount of mitigation money in the pot. And the response was “I don’t have that information”. The question was also asked that if the mitigation required by all the fora from London to Birmingham was far more than was in the budget, what was the point of our meeting to outline our requirements. LThe reply to this was that mitigate measures could be built into the final route plan.
It was also added that if, say 700 people required a certain amount of mitigation in one area (double glazing!!!) and 70 required the same in another, then the likelihood was that the money would follow the “greatest need”. In rural areas therefore where the population is less, it seems like we can whistle.
Also there is no challenge allowed to what mitigation they approve, or leave out – again hs2 Ltd said it could be challenged via the Hybrid Bill. Our MP quickly responded that it was not realistic to wait that long, and to lobby, lobby, lobby.
My thinking is that if this is so vital to the nation, then every possible, highest performing, mitigation should be implemented in order to ensure that those most blighted have the very best measures applied. Irrespective of cost. A wooden fence just won’t cut it.
well done andrea leadsom for standing up for house owners along the route of hs2 i am sure we all owe her a big thankyou