Oral and Written answers in Parliament

Question During Chancellor’s Autumn statement 5th November http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm121205/debtext/121205-0002.htm#12120570002167

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con): I welcome my right hon. Friend’s proposals, particularly the extension of the expenditure envelope for infrastructure plans, but will he personally ensure that our transport policy is fully integrated? At present, the proposals for HS2 completely ignore any plans we might have to expand our airport capacity. There is little point in building or announcing any extension to the railway if it does not connect adequately to our major international hub airport. Will he personally look into this?

Mr Osborne: Of course I understand why my right hon. Friend speaks on behalf of her constituents who will be affected by the High Speed 2 development, but I think that it is the right infrastructure for our country, and that it will help to change the economic geography of Britain by connecting some of our northern and midland cities with London. I hope she will acknowledge that we have been generous with some of the compensation as well. She asked specific questions about the extension to Heathrow and the design of the route. My right hon. Friend the Transport Secretary would be better placed to answer them, and in the new year he will have more to say about the route to the north-west and to west Yorkshire.

Questions during WCML franchise debate 6th Decemberhttp://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm121206/debtext/121206-0002.htm#12120640001154

Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con):The welcome announcement of extra capacity and services on the west coast main line drives a coach and horses through one of the prime reasons for High Speed 2, which is to reduce overcrowding on the WCML. Given the stark warnings of the Laidlaw report, particularly chapter 7, which identifies failings in the capability and capacity of the Department for Transport, how can anyone trust the Department with what will be the largest peacetime spend on a project? Is it not time the Secretary of State took another brave decision and consigned this poorly managed, ill-conceived and increasingly thinly justified project to the waste paper basket?

Mr McLoughlin: My right hon. Friend is vociferous on this issue on behalf of her constituents. She is asking me to prejudge announcements that I will make next year. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made it clear yesterday that we will be moving forward with HS2. I look forward to welcoming her to the Department next week.

Thomas Docherty (Dunfermline and West Fife) (Lab): Further to the previous question, will the Secretary of State clarify whether there are any implications for the value-for-money exercise that was carried out on High Speed 2 and, if there are, whether he will be asking the civil service to go back over them again?

Mr McLoughlin: That is a valid question, but of course, as I have said, this is a franchise exercise that went wrong. High Speed 2 is a capital project that I think will benefit the United Kingdom and our long-term capacity. No railway line has been built north of London for over 100 years, so it is about time we increased capacity.

Written questions on the environmental effects of HS2 http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm121203/text/121203w0001.htm#12120335000948

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to mitigate the effect of High Speed Rail 2 on (a) the Misbourne, Colne and Chess rivers, (b) the chalk aquifer and (c)other bodies of water; and if he will make a statement. [130949]

Mr Simon Burns: The effects on surface and underground water are an important consideration for HS2 Ltd. Changes made to the route as a result of the consultation in 2011 meant that many impacts were minimised, such as the realigned deep tunnel under the Chilterns avoiding impacting on the River Misbourne and ensuring the Chilterns aquifer was avoided. Where HS2 crosses water bodies, rivers and flood plains, HS2 Ltd will continue to work closely with the Environment Agency and local people to help make sure that they use the most suitable methods to minimise impacts.

Currently the design process is being informed, in part, through concerns from residents about local rivers during engagement at community forums and through issues identified as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment process.

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the processes for the development of High Speed 2 comply with the (a) Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive, (b) Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004 and (c) Environmental Impact Assessment Directive on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment; and if he will make a statement. [130980]

Mr Simon Burns: My Department understands the requirements of these directives and regulations and has carefully considered them in connection with HS2. The Government’s HS2 proposals do not constitute a plan or programme within the meaning of the strategic environmental assessment (SEA) directive and the 2004 regulations, and therefore, there was not a requirement to undertake a SEA. However, my Department decided that it would be appropriate and beneficial to apply SEA principles to the Appraisal of Sustainability published in 2011. We will take all necessary steps to meet the objectives of the environmental impact assessment directive including production of an Environmental Statement which will accompany the Hybrid Bill to inform Parliament’s decisions on HS2, and public consultation.

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