HS2 Action Group Update.

It has been three months since the Parliamentary Select Committee and we would like to update you on progress since then.

At the Select Committee Hearing in January, HS2 made some assurances to the effect that it was in the interest of both Wardington Parish Council and HS2 to reduce the traffic through Wardington. Assurance was given to seek to use haul roads to carry as much of the HGV traffic as possible. HS2 will also consider extending the haul road between Greatworth and Turweston providing it is economically and technically feasible. HS2 are aware of the cost savings of using the haul road.

There are various ways to achieve the mutual objectives and Wardington are content with the thrust of assurances HS2 are offering. HS2 will also look at reducing the fill at Lower Boddington and / or look at reducing the rate of fill, however this will extend the construction time. HS2 have also considered a bypass around Wardington and have recognised the complications, which they judge to be surmountable.  This does however remain a very outside possibility. HS2 will revise their assurances, and advise on the conveyor over the A43 once they have worked out the practicalities. The good news is that there is land available on which to build the conveyor. However until such time as the contracts for the haulage work are let and the practicalities seriously addressed by those bidding for the work we are still dealing with a theoretical situation. This is why our petition to the House of Commons and our planned petition to the House of Lords is so important.

We are also now working in close collaboration with villages affected by HS2 to the North of Wardington in order to be able to look at the construction work as a whole.

The House of Commons HS2 Committee’s Report contained the following paragraph

85 on page 30:

Victoria Prentis MP and residents of Wardington addressed us with concerns about proposals to route spoil movement by road through Wardington village on the A361. The purpose would be to use earth excavated at Greatworth and Turweston for earthworks construction at Lower Boddington. Very high HGV movements would be required over an extended period of possibly between 1½ to 2 years. The Promoter is considering how to reduce volume of materials needed at Lower Boddington, as well as an alternative spoil removal route using a conveyor over the A43, which we heard could achieve reductions of up to some 30% of heavy vehicle movements. We were encouraged by that creative approach. Nevertheless, we believe the possible traffic burden on Wardington needs careful attention. The village has been seeking a bypass, and would struggle to cope with the currently proposed HGV movements. We urge the Promoter to assist in finding ways to address matters.

We continue to place pressure on HS2 to publish more specific data on what they have actively achieved since the Hearing and the Select Committee report.

The hybrid Bill for Phase One of the HS2 scheme between London and Birmingham was given its third reading by the House of Commons on 23 March 2016. The Bill has now passed to the House of Lords after MPs voted 339 to 42 in favour. Construction is expected to begin in 2017, provided that the Bill successfully completes its parliamentary passage.

The Action Group will now petition the House of Lords in an attempt to get their support to exert more pressure on HS2 to achieve the reductions in HGV movements through Wardington. The main points of the petition will cover:-

Ø  The extension of the haul road from Chipping Warden to Greatworth and Turweston.

Ø  The consideration of a Wardington bypass.

Ø  A review of the volume of spoil required to be moved to Lower Boddington.

Ø  Restriction of the HGV movements on the A361 to 8:00am – 6:00pm weekdays only.

Ø  An assessment by HS2 to the environmental and safety impact of the construction traffic. To mitigate or remedy any adverse impact.

Ø  To appoint an independent ‘adjudicator’ to ensure all measures agreed by HS2 are implemented and adhered to.

We are progressing with the full support of Victoria Prentis MP who is also using other official routes to strengthen our campaign. So far we are most encouraged by events but there is still much to do to ensure a successful result.

Nigel Bankes

HS2 Action Group Chairman