HS2 in Hansard 16/05/2013

High Speed 2

6. Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): What recent

discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for

Transport and farmers on mitigating the effects of

High Speed 2 on farms affected by the proposed route.

[155339]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Richard Benyon):

The Government are committed to ensuring that the

construction of the high-speed rail line is undertaken as

sympathetically as possible. That is why we have asked

HS2 Ltd to undertake a draft environmental statement

to better understand the impacts of the scheme on

affected parties, including farmers. The draft statement

will set out the likely significant impacts, as currently

understood, and will identify proposals to avoid, reduce

or remedy those with a significant adverse impact.

Michael Fabricant: Whatever we might think about

the principle of high-speed rail—I am actually for it—it

can hardly be sympathetic, as the Minister said, given

that the route that we have chosen, the Labour route,

crashes through rural England and affects many farms.

What discussions has the Minister had with the National

Farmers Union about compensation for farms that will

be decimated, with fields being separated from other

fields, and land shortages being created by 100 metre

swaths?

Richard Benyon: The environmental statement is

published today and will be available in the Library.We

have hadmeetings, and in February theNational Farmers

Union and the Country Land and Business Association

signed up to a voluntary agreement with HS2 Ltd that

sets out the process for contacting landowners to discuss

gaining entry to their land. It also contains a fee structure

and a duty of care commitment. This will help HS2 Ltd

775 Oral Answers 16 MAY 2013 Oral Answers 776

better to understand the impacts of the scheme on

farmers in my hon. Friend’s constituency and elsewhere

along the route.

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con): Will the Minister

also discuss with the Secretary of State the problems

that farmers in my constituency are facing as a result of

proposed business developments on their land to improve

the rural economy being put on hold or stopped altogether

because of the blight?

Richard Benyon: We certainly remain willing to work

across Government to ensure that those kinds of concerns

about the undoubted impacts are raised. There is huge

experience in relation to other infrastructure developments

that have taken place over recent years and decades, and

I can assure my hon. Friend that we will work closely

with him to get this right.

HS2 Phase One Consultations

The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick

McLoughlin): The Government have today published

two documents for consultation which significantlymove

forward our work on the HS2 route between London

and the west midlands (known as phase 1 of HS2).

These are the draft environmental statement and the

design refinements consultations.

Publication of the draft environmental statement (ES)

is a key step towards delivering the hybrid Bill for the

HS2 route between London and the west midlands. The

formal ES will be published alongside the hybrid Bill

later this year, having been further refined in light of

responses to the draft ES consultation.

The draft ES provides, wherever available, information

on the likely significant environmental effects of HS2—and

our plans wherever possible to mitigate them.

The Government believe that HS2 is vital for this

country and will provide a huge economic return.However,

I am aware that the building of the railway will cause

disruption for those living close to the line of route. I

am determined that this disruption should be kept to a

minimum and mitigated wherever possible.

Consulting on the draft ES is not a statutory requirement

but theGovernment recognise the importance of ensuring

widespread engagement on the scheme. Best design can

only be reached with the input of local communities,

environmental groups and all levels of Government.

Once the hybrid Bill is deposited, there will be a

further period of consultation on the formal environmental

statement as part of the parliamentary process.

Alongside the draft ES, I have published a consultation

on a series of design refinements for the HS2 route

between London and the west midlands. Since we set

out our proposed route in January 2012 we have been

developing the detailed design of the scheme, listening

to the representations from individuals and organisations

affected by the route. This refinement process aims to

ensure that we design a railway that is as efficient and

effective as possible while limiting as far as practicable

its impacts on people and the environment.

Many of these proposed refinements are small in

scale but some are more significant, altering the local

impact of the scheme. To ensure my final decisions on

these refinements are informed by the best possible

information I have decided to consult on my initial

preferences for the more significant changes before

deciding whether to include them in the final design of

the scheme.

Consultation on both the draft environmental statement

and the design refinements closes on 11 July. Consulting

on these two documents is part of the process of helping

to make HS2 the best it can be, providing passengers

with the high level of service they expectwhile minimising

as far as practicable the impact on local communities.

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport

with reference to the answer of 11 March 2013, Official

Report, column 20W, on high speed 2 railway line, when

he plans to publish the draft environmental statement.

[155046]

Mr Simon Burns: The Secretary of State for Transport,

my right hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire Dales

(Mr McLoughlin), issued a writtenministerial statement

to the House about HS2 Phase One Consultations

today.

Michael Fabricant: To ask the Secretary of State for

Transport what plans his Department has to assist

British companies to win contracts for the construction

and manufacture of tracks, locomotives and carriages

for the proposed High Speed 2 service. [155163]

Mr Simon Burns: The Government’s National

Infrastructure Plan makes clear the importance of a

predictable and transparent pipeline of infrastructure

projects, which helps British companies gear up for and

respond to opportunities. HS2 forms a key element of

that long-term pipeline.

As the HS2 project moves forward, the Government

will do all it can to ensure that companies with a British

presence are well placed to compete for future contracts.

High Speed 2 Railway Line

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Minister for the Cabinet

Office if he will publish the full Major ProjectsAuthority

report into High Speed 2 which carries a red/amber

classification. [154908]

Miss Chloe Smith [holding answer 14 May 2013]:

The Government announced its transparency policy for

major projects data 25 February 2013. Further details

can be found here:

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/psr_treasury_minutes.htm

National Audit Office

3. Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con): How many

staff the National Audit Office employs; and what

information the NAO collects on their previous

employment. [155326]

Mr Edward Leigh (Gainsborough): The NationalAudit

Office currently employs the equivalent of 870 full-time

staff. It collects detailed information on an individual’s

employment and education history when recruiting staff.

Mr Hollobone: The National Audit Office undertakes

a lot of good work investigating many public bodies.

Does my hon. Friend think the make-up of his staff is

sufficiently broad, from all sorts of different sectors in

the private and public world, for them to do their job

effectively?

Mr Leigh: Yes, I do. As an audit institution, the

NAO’s core accounting skills are obviously provided

through qualified accountants, many of whom join as

trainees. TheNAOcurrently employs about 330 qualified

accountants and 200 trainees, graduate and school-leaver,

from all sectors and all types of society. It also recruits

staff from public and private sector backgrounds to

provide operational expertise and disciplines, including

economics, statistics, information and communications

technology, banking and finance. In addition, it has an

active inward and outward secondment programme to

enhance its skills and experience base.

Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op):Will

the hon. Gentleman send the House’s congratulations

to NAO staff, who do such a good job, particularly in

bursting the bubble on High Speed 2? They have shown

what an absolute waste of public money it will be. It will

cost approximately £50 billion, which could be spent

regenerating our towns and cities.

Mr Leigh: Of course NAO staff have no views on the

policy implications of HS2, but I know that they will

ensure that it, like all public sector projects, is properly

investigated to ensure that there is nowaste or incompetence.

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