HS2 Update for July 2011

  |  Published: Jul 15th 2011

HS2 Consultation

Final Reminder

The consultation on the Government's high-speed rail proposals ends on 29 July.

This is your chance to influence the Government's decisions on HS2, so please ensure that you send in a response, however brief.

You can pick up a response form at the Wendover HS2 Information Centre on Back Street (open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays), where volunteers can advise you on completing it, or else have your say online at http://highspeedrail.dft.gov.uk

Even if you attended the HS2 Roadshow in May, it is important to answer the seven consultation questions in writing or online.

Please mention the tunnel!

We have learnt that the HS2 engineers considered putting the railway line in an extended tunnel past Wendover, from the London Road to Nash Lee Road, but that this was rejected as being too expensive. Given the cost of whole project is likely to be well over £30 billion, and Wendover is the worst affected town of its size along the route, this seems short-sighted. Officials at the HS2 Roadshow said that if enough people in Wendover press for a tunnel, this may be reconsidered. You may wish to say in answering Question 5 of the consultation (on the proposed route) that, if the Government does push HS2 through despite the opposition to the plans, a tunnel through the whole Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - and at the very least through Wendover and the surrounding area - is absolutely essential to protect communities from noise and visual impacts. There is no reason why making such a point should compromise any opposition to HS2 in principle that you may express in answering the other questions.

Transport Select Committee Inquiry and Labour transport review

The Transport Select Committee is undertaking a new inquiry into the Government's high-speed rail strategy. Wendover HS2 Action Group has submitted a paper on the poor business case of the HS2 proposals, which the committee has formally accepted as evidence. The Labour party is also reviewing its transport policies, including high-speed rail. Wendover HS2 is preparing a report for the review, and encourages residents to have their say too at http://www.britainbetterconnected.org.uk A change of heart in the Labour party may ensure HS2 becomes an issue at the next general election.

White Elephant Walk

Sun 10 July, 10am Meet on Manor Waste

Come and join us on our 'White Elephant Walk' to bring everyone's attention to the completion of the HS2 Consultation and raise awareness of this expensive White Elephant and the damage it will do. Press and MPs have also been invited to walk up Coombe Hill or meet us up there at 11am.

Tell all your friends and family, bring a picnic, a banner or even an elephant mask and make your voice heard!

Rare wildlife threatened by HS2

Bechstein's bats, one of Britain's rarest mammals, are living in ancient woods either side of the proposed HS2 (high speed rail) route in north Buckinghamshire.

"If the HS2 route rips through this area of Bernwood it will destroy another important wildlife site," says Philippa Lyons, Chief Executive of the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust. The Government hasn't considered the route's devastating impact on wildlife at all, which is astounding when you consider the scale of the HS2 development. If HS2 Ltd had done a proper environmental assessment, they would be aware of all the wildlife that will be affected."

See a video of Bechstein's bats.

Bechstein's bats, and their roosting and maternity sites, are protected under EU and UK wildlife laws. As a European Protected Species and UK Biodiversity Action Plan species, they have the highest possible level of statutory wildlife protection in the UK.

"This means that it's against the law to damage, destroy or obstruct their habitats and roosts," said Philippa Lyons. "The proposed HS2 route could have a severe impact on the ability of the bats to breed, and might even lead to the extinction of this local population. HS2 must be halted and a proper Strategic Environmental Assessment carried out before any decisions on the route are made. We are not convinced that the Government is taking its responsibilities for the environment and wildlife seriously.

Volunteers from the North Bucks Bat Group are taking part in a four-year national project to survey Bechstein's bats. During May several female Bechstein's bats were found in woodlands including Finemere Wood, a BBOWT nature reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The Bat Group believes that these bats are likely to be part of a large breeding group. A further group of adult female Bechstein's bats with their young were found last year in one wood, and a group of adult males were found in another wood on the other side of the proposed HS2 route. Taken together with the recent discovery of female Bechstein's bats at Finemere Wood, this creates a Bechstein's bat 'hotspot'.

Matt Dodds of the North Bucks Bat Group says: "Until last year's find, Bechstein's bats had never been recorded this far north-east in England, and their discovery was a big surprise. "We don't yet know how far this population is distributed, but local landowners are really supportive and keen for us to investigate this further. The ancient woodland and habitat links between them in the Bernwood Biodiversity Opportunity Area must be protected for the Bechstein's bats to survive."

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