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.
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
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
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.
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
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. 
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
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:
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
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
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.