Briefing Note on HS2 – October 2011

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Summer round up

The consultation on HS2 closed at the end of July with over 60,000 responses received..

These are now being analysed and it is anticipated that a decision by the new Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening * will be made in December 2011.

Over the summer the Transport Select Committee (TSC) considered evidence on HS2 from a wide range of organisations and people at five evidence gathering sessions. These included at least 201 submissions of written evidence and oral evidence from a large number of groups, organisations and individuals with a variety of opinions on the proposals. WCC and the 51m Group, of which WCC is a member both submitted evidence, and representatives of 51m attended in person on behalf of the LA members.

Details of the oral evidence taken and the written submissions is available on the Parliament website.

The report of the Transport Select Committee is expected to be published in November 2011.

51M

51m is a group of local authorities along the route of the proposed high speed line who oppose the scheme. The group has recently been joined by Three Rivers District Council and Coventry City Council bringing the total membership to 18 local authorities.

The group submitted supplementary evidence to the TSC to :

‘update the Committee on issues related to the “Optimised Alternative”, as described in Chapter 1 of 51m’s main submission, and to respond to the supplementary evidence submitted to the Committee by DfT and HS2 Ltd.’

The submission concluded that neither the DfT nor HS2 Ltd. had demonstrated any significant flaw in the Optimised Alternative, which potentially offers a faster, more flexible means of providing additional capacity, at much less cost.

Parliamentary debate

On 13 October HS2 was the subject of a Parliamentary Debate in the House of Commons. It was designed to allow for contributions from Members who were unable to participate in the previous Westminster Hall debate held on 31 March 2011.

The proceedings can be viewed on the Parliament web site www.parliamentlive.tv and the Hansard record can also be found on the Parliament web site or you may find the unofficial site Theyworkforyou easier to use. For this go to www.theyworkforyou.com and search by HS2.

Martin Tett, Chairman of 51m (and Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council) commented at its conclusion:

“I am delighted that the overwhelming majority of speakers were firmly against the scheme, including now MPs from inner London such as Frank Dobson (MP for Holborn and St Pancras) and the north such as Fiona Bryce (MP for Congleton). What the debate did reveal is the fundamental weakness of the HS2 case – the business case is flawed; there is no evidence that HS2 will bridge the north-south divide or achieve any regeneration benefits. It will be an environmental disaster, not just here in the Chilterns AONB but right along the line. There are huge disbenefits to our existing rail network and to many towns and cities in the Midlands and the North which will have the economic life drawn from them as they are bypassed by HS2 and suffer slower , reduced train services.

And next…

WCC’s Members Working Group will meet in November and a report is planned for Cabinet in January 2012, when the Ministerial announcement on HS2 should be known.

* Change of Minister

Cabinet changes triggered by the resignation of Dr Liam Fox have seen Philip Hammond moved from Transport to take up the position of Minister of Defence. Justine Greening is the new Secretary of state for Transport,
(former Economic Secretary to the Treasury and MP for Putney, Roehampton and Southfields). Justine Greening campaigned against the building of a third runway at Heathrow.

If you require any further clarification please do not hesitate to contact Mandy Walker on 01926 412843 or email: mandywalker@warwickshire.gov.uk or HS2@warwickshire.gov.uk

Our website at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/HS2 carries the latest information.

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