HS2 Update for March 2011

  |  Published: Mar 11th 2011

Wendover HS2 Action Group stepping up campaign

The Wendover HS2 Action Group is stepping up its campaign against the proposed route for the high speed railway by opening an Information Centre in the heart of the village.

Wendover, population around 8,000, would probably be the worst affected community if the proposed route were to go ahead. The community faces the prospect of up to 36 trains an hour passing within a few hundred yards of the village centre and adjacent housing areas at 250 mph for 19 hours a day and generating high noise levels.

The Information Centre will be manned by volunteers and will provide detailed information about the likely effects of HS2 on the Wendover area and the destructive impact on the protected Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Visitors will be advised on the actions they can take to support the campaign. They will also be given information on how to respond to the government consultation on the proposed route, due to be launched on 28 February.

The Wendover Group is not against higher speed rail investment in the UK but is opposed to any route that causes unacceptable damage to the Chilterns AONB. Apart from the environmental damage it has demonstrated that there is no credible business case for the proposed route. It also claims that there are serious technology risks in the current proposal due to the selection of unproven technology and, most significantly, that there are much lower cost options for achieving similar results.

The Wendover Information Centre will be opened at 1100 on Saturday 26 February at 2 Icknield Court, Back Street, Wendover.

Thank you from the campaign team

The Wendover HS2 campaign team would like to thank everyone who donated to the anti-HS2 fighting fund as a result of the appeal in the January edition of Wendover News and our recent leafletting campaign. We will be using these funds in support of the national campaign against the HS2 high-speed rail plans and to take the fight to Westminster.

Consultation about HS2

The Government is expected to launch its consultation about the proposed high-speed rail line at the end of February. The consultation will last for five months, and will give everyone a chance to have their say about HS2.

Full details were not available as Wendover News went to press, but we expect the consultation to ask for people's views on the route chosen through the Chilterns; on the Government's overall high-speed rail plans; and compensation for those most badly affected.

Dates for your diary: 13&14 May

HS2 Ltd, the company advising Government on the railway line, will be holding a two-day exhibition about HS2 in the Wendover Memorial Hall on 13 and 14 May. This will be an opportunity to raise your concerns about the proposals and to register your views. We urge all residents to visit the Memorial Hall on 13 or 14 May and to take a full part in the consultation. If HS2 were to be approved, it would affect everyone in Wendover and change the village for ever.

Keeping you informed

Once we have had a chance to digest the consultation documents, we will publish our initial reaction and offer some guidance on how to respond.

We will keep residents informed with leaflets, a public meeting in the Memorial Hall (date to be confirmed), via Wendover News and our Wendover HS2 mailing list. If you would like to register for email updates, go to www.wendoverhs2.org. If you can help the campaign team in any way during the consultation, please contact Marion Clayton on 622862 or email wendoverhs2@btinternet.com

An individual opinion

As a resident of Wendover for over 15 years I too feel the concerns of many about the impact that HS2 will have on our local community but I can't help thinking that our protests are taking on an all too familiar and potentially ineffective route.

The two primary considerations are a) no business case and b) damage to the environment.

Taking each in turn, the National Audit Office (NAO) reviews of large Government Projects for years have argued that business cases don't 'stack up' and questioned the value of spending of the public purse but it hasn't stopped projects, merely confirmed the same old reasons of what went wrong. Whatever the business case the Government will argue the strategic value of HS2 to its vision of a modern integrated transport system for the UK which is long overdue and has been starved of investment for years? Very difficult to argue against this.

On the second point, the environment, again the risk and damage to the environment features strongly on any and every large infrastructure initiative but if the environment took precedence then we wouldn't have the existing motorway, roads, bridges and railways systems that we have today. Again meeting the Government's long term strategic vision for transport, in my humble opinion, trumps again.

What government (in fact all governments) dislike is publicity and accountability. The HS2 link will drive through many sitting MP constituency boundaries and yet all I hear from at least our more local ones is tacit disapproval to the government's plans. If these MPs wish to be re-elected they need to be more accountable to their constituents and however uncomfortable for them to start supporting the objection lobbies overtly and challenge government policy.

HS2 may be receiving lots of publicity in local newspapers but hardly gets a mention in the national press, nor will it if protesting is confined to the leafy shires. Taking the argument, physically to Westminster in peaceful protest in large numbers may, only may, find its way onto Cabinet agendas!!
Richard Allman

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