Warwickshire County Council
Briefing Note on HS2
HS2 Ltd Engagement structures
The structure for the engagement activities outlined by HS2 Ltd were included in the January briefing note and are made up of:
- The National Environment Forum
- Local Planning Forums
- HS2 Community Forums
Further information has now been made available.
The National Environment Forum will consist of national representatives of environmental consultees and government departments and will concentrate on methodology and structures. Local and regional representation has been requested.
Local Planning Forums
The first of the Warwickshire Planning Forums was held on 9 February and was attended by officers of Warwickshire County Council, North Warwickshire District Council, Stratford-on-Avon District Council and Warwick District Council, together with the Chief Executive of HS2 Ltd., the HS2 Director for London to the West Midlands, the HS2 Head of Environment and a Stakeholder Advisor for HS2 Ltd..
WCC and the district and borough councils have taken the view that, although they object to the proposal to build a high speed rail line, they would be failing in their duty to the residents of Warwickshire if they didn’t engage with HS2 Ltd. to protect the interests of the people of Warwickshire.
The HS2 Ltd. staff outlined their approach to engagement and the objectives of the forums which is to facilitate dialogue regarding design work of HS2 and communicate the method, progress and findings of the environmental impact assessment. The forums are designed to provide a focal point for ongoing engagement by the area based HS2 teams and for briefing on the programme and discussion of issues and queries about the process.
Their commitment is…
In designing a railway fit for the requirements of a Hybrid Bill, HS2 Ltd will work closely with local authorities, communities and stakeholders to develop the design in a way which minimises potential impacts and identifies opportunities for community benefit.
They told the Group that the intention is to deposit the Hybrid Bill on 25 October 2013. Local authorities can select the most appropriate officers to attend the Planning Forum depending on the topics for discussion and a forward plan of the agenda will be produced to assist this. Sub-groups will also be formed to review and resolve location specific or technical issues and report back to the Planning Forums for sign off.
HS2 Community Forums
Letters have been sent by HS2 Ltd. to all the Parish Councils along the route outlining the role of the Community Forums, which is to establish effective dialogue with local communities. Community Liaison Teams are being set up by HS2 Ltd. and the first meetings are being planned for late March/early April.
HS2 see these forums as providing a way to:
- identify local priorities for the route design
- discuss potential ways to avoid and mitigate the environmental impacts of the route such as screening views of the railway, managing noise and reinstating highways
- explore opportunities for possible community benefits
- inform the local community about HS2 proposals and consultations
About 20 forums are proposed along the route and will be made up of representatives of parishes, boroughs districts and county councils. local residents/resident action groups, local businesses, transport bodies, local environmental/heritage groups, schools/educational facilities, and local farmers/landowners.
WCC and the district and borough councils have strongly recommended that HS2 consider direct invitations to the action groups as well as inviting them through the parish and town councils.
(These HS2 Community Forums should not be confused with the well established WCC Community Forums which are designed to engage local people on a wider range of topics.)
The first Warwickshire Planning Forum was given the following details of the proposed consultations timetable:
- Blight consultation Spring 2012
- Safeguarding consultation Spring 2012
- Local Engagement Spring2012 (on going)
- Scoping of the EIA Spring 2012
- Environmental Statement Public Consultation Spring 2013
This will all lead to the deposit of the Hybrid Bill which it is anticipated will be in October 2013.
The Government has made a commitment to introduce a package of compensation measures over and above the statutory minimum including:
- a refreshed hardship scheme
- support for those affected by construction and measures to reinforce confidence in properties above tunnels
- measures to simplify the compulsory purchase process
- a sale and rent back scheme to give homeowners within the safeguarding area more flexibility
A ‘safeguarding zone’ either side of the route will delineate the land that HS2 expect to need in order to build and operate HS2 and the extent of this will be the subject of a consultation by HS2 Ltd with the statutory consultees.
Once this zone has been agreed any planning applications for developments or construction projects within the zone would have to be referred to HS2 for decision. The existing statutory blight provisions would apply to any qualifying owners of land or property within the zone.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
HS2 Ltd reported that they have made requests for data and have reached an initial agreement with the NFU (National Farmers Unit) and the CLA (Country Landowners Association) on access to land and will be beginning survey work this month, with extensive survey work underway in March. They anticipate this will cover thousands of sites in due course.
They have asked the local authorities to help with access and with identifying suitable points for monitoring work. HS2 Ltd does not have right of access.
As part of the Hybrid Bill process, a book of reference will be developed which will log all the issues identified and record the built environment as they understand the environment through which the line will be constructed.
At the Planning Forum meeting HS2 Ltd described the scope and methodology for the EIA. This includes setting out the minimum information to be provided which is:
- a description of the project (site, design and size)
- a description of the data required to identify and assess the main effects and details of mitigation measures
- An outline of the main alternatives
- A non-technical summary of the information mentioned above
- A description of the likely significant
- Direct effects
- Any indirect, secondary and cumulative effects
- Short, medium and long term, permanent and temporary, positive and negative effects
- A description of the aspects likely to be affected;
- Population, fauna, flora, sol, water, air, climatic factors, material assets including the architectural and archaeological heritage, landscape and inter-relationship between the above factors.
The scope and methodology is to be subject to consultation with the local authorities, will be debated at the Planning Forums.
The local authorities asked HS2 Ltd to keep them informed of site visits so that highways staff and elected Members in particular would know if they were contacted by concerned land owners etc. They were also asked to ensure Members are briefed before the Community Forums are held.
HS2 Ltd as the body charged with delivering the scheme is recruiting and developing and has appointed CH2M Hill and PSF consultants to work with them. A structure chart is available on the HS2 Ltd website. The line from London to the West Midlands will be split into 4 areas and a project manager appointed for each and the stakeholder liaison will also be area based.
Access to information
For those without access to the web, a set of the most useful of the many documents published in January 2012 have been deposited at the libraries along the route. Maps which show the main changes to the route announced in January have also been sent to the libraries and maps which identify the roads and footpaths which cross the line are being developed.
If you require any further clarification please do not hesitate to contact Mandy Walker or Sara Board on 01926 412830 or email: HS2@warwickshire.gov.uk