Elephant

HS2 - Local & National News

Compiled with the aid of Andrea Polden's daily HS2 News digest

For National HS2 news, visit the Stop HS2 News pages,
the Google HS2 news feed,
& the Stop HS2 "TV station" on YouTube

06-Aug-2020

HS2 - High Speed Tension

An article on the 'Freedom' (Anarchist) website

South Portal works

A 17-metre high headwall at what will become the south portal of the 10-mile long HS2 Chiltern tunnel has been completed. (BFP, Volker-FitzpPatrick)

31-Jul-2020

In the Courts -Packham Appeal denied

It gives me no pleasure to inform you that the Court of Appeal has rejected my request for Judicial Review .
Today is a dark day for us , our wildlife , our environment and our planet . And darker still for our government
(Chris Packham - Facebook ; Grauniad )

But Hillingdon win

The Court of Appeal handed down its judgment today. It ruled that HS2 Ltd cannot rely upon the Environmental Requirements and that it has to provide sufficient information to the council in support of its planning applications. The council is under no obligation to determine the applications unless and until it receives such information.
Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Leader of Hillingdon Council, said: ''HS2 Ltd thought that they could act with total impunity and just expect the council to approve its planning applications without question. As the Court of Appeal has said, it cannot have been the intention of Parliament to allow HS2 Ltd to be a judge in its own cause.

and an alternative view - Wendover News

Judgement(s)

On both cases - & a press release.

28-Jul-2020

Still in the Courts

A group of environmental campaigners who are accused of trying to stop a tree being chopped down to make way for HS2 have denied trespassing.
The women, who dubbed themselves "7 Sisters", were accused of preventing contractors working at Poor's Piece in Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire.
They denied aggravated trespass and were bailed to face trial in January. (BBC)

At a hearing listed for this Thursday and Friday, 30th and 31st July, at 10 am at Birmingham High Court, a 22-year-old earth protector Elliott Cuciurean, could be jailed for protecting ancient woodland from destruction by the Government’s High Speed Rail project.
In an unprecedented move, HS2 Ltd and the Government have submitted an application to commit the young peaceful protector to prison for an alleged breach of an anti-trespass injunction around woodland in Warwickshire. (HS2 rebellion)

27-Jul-2020

Wildlife Trusts campaign for Net Gain

Tomorrow, I will be making the case to the Select Committee that HS2 should only be permitted to go further ahead if it will deliver a net gain for nature. 

Luci Ryan, Lead Policy Adviser for Infrastructure at the charity said:
“HS2’s catalogue of errors is growing ever bigger. It’s like a runaway train, gathering momentum and leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. One mistake invariably leads to another and one of the biggest losers is ancient woodland and the wildlife that relies on it for survival.” (Politics Home)

25-Jul-2020

HS2 grab Calvert Jubilee

It is with great sadness that we have to report that on Tuesday 28 July HS2 will take legal possession of a large part of our Calvert Jubilee nature reserve and begin clearance works. (BBOWT mailout; Bucks Herald)

Or do they ? (Mix 96)

Wendover Construction Compound

"Many residents in Wendover received this flyer today detailing the building of a compound at the junction of the A413 and B4009 near Wendover." - Wendover News ; nothing on Commonplace

23-Jul-2020

Chalfont St Peter Vent Shaft

Taking its inspiration from the style of local barns and other agricultural buildings, the headhouse is designed to fit into the surrounding landscape. The pre-weathered grey zinc roof will age naturally over time, without loss of robustness or quality, while the whole structure will sit on a simple dark blue brick base. (Commonplace, Rail UK)

11-Jul-2020

HS2 rated Red by the Major Projects Authority (Annual Report, 2019-20)

Red: Successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable. There are major issues with project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable. The project may need re-scoping and/or its overall viability reassessed.

So which journeys are cut by half ?

There was around £93.9bn of Whole Life Costs associated with projects rated Red compared to £19.8bn in Green or Amber/Green projects. These aggregate figures are of course influenced by individual ‘mega projects’. For example, HS2 accounts for over half of the total Whole Life Cost associated with Red-rated projects.

See also -

'Major Projects in government' for some really pretty graphics (Inst for Govt)

Question from Lord Berkley

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they plan to take to in response to the report  and its finding that in relation to the HS2 programme, the "successful delivery of the project appears to be unachievable".

Neolithic Circle discovered near Wendover

A large Neolithic circular monument of wooden posts 65m (213 ft) in diameter and aligned with the winter solstice, "similar to Stonehenge", was uncovered.
The site also has evidence of domestic occupation during the Bronze to Iron Ages (3000BC to AD43), including a roundhouse and animal pits. (BBC, Beds.., BFP, Bucks Herald)

09-Jul-2020

Packham - Judgement reserved

Chris Packham’s bid to get the courts to agree to hear a judicial review case against HS2 was heard yesterday and the judges will give their verdict on it in three weeks.
But during those three weeks, HS2 will trash many more woodlands. (Ecologist)

30-Jun-2020

Packham Appeal - more

First, Mr Packham contends that the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary were told (and so would have proceeded from an understanding) that the Oakervee Report set out a sufficient account of environmental impacts for the purpose of their decision to go ahead with HS2, when in fact it had not done so.
Second, that Mr Packham argues that the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary failed to have regard to the implications of the Paris Agreement when they took the decision. (Bucks Herald)

See also - Video by Chris, & Email your MP kit (HS2 Betrays us all)

27-Jun-2020

Chris Packham case - Appeal to be heard

 The Court of Appeal has decided to hear Chris Packham’s appeal regarding an application for permission for judicial review of the Prime Minister’s decision to proceed with the HS2 railway project. (& see Express and Star)

Rebel Trail arrives in London -

News item, Video

Rebel Trail under surveillance

HS2 sent a camera van to follow the walkers through Bucks (more..)
Rebel Trail arrives in Bucks (Mix96, Advertiser)

23-Jun-2020

HS2 trashing Denham Country Park - Community Engagement ?

But instead of engaging with him, HS2 sent him round the houses – they sat on emails, played dumb and even tried to trap him in a kafkaesque bureaucratic loop demanding emails be forwarded endlessly between him, HS2 and the national grid. “Basically they do the biggest fobbing off exercise they can” says Graham, “[HS2 say] ‘we’ve already explained why we’re doing it the way we are, so basically go away.’” (Sounds familiar ??)

Wendover Mined Tunnel

DfT have refused point blank to allow us to see any evidence, from formal reviews, from engineering opinion or from HS2’s costing experts, that might support their position. We are looking to continue the questions in the House of Lords in a determined attempt for us to get sight of the supposed reviews and consideration reports that DfT say they looked at and rejected our scheme. (Wendover News)

Rail Franchises are Suspended

The railway network was the first major sector to receive government protection during the lockdown. The franchise contracts, through which the private companies operate, were suspended on 23 March and replaced by so-called emergency measures agreements. Companies were no longer required to take the “revenue risk”, meaning the revenue from fares now all goes to government, which in turn pays a management fee to the operators.
(Christian Woolmar, New Statesman)

13-Jun-2020

Wildlife Roundup

Wendover - Hydrology

When the alignment of the HS2 railway was made public, it became clear that an 80m wide, 3km cutting would be made between Bacombe Lane and Nash Lee Lane (parallel to the A413 Wendover bypass) to enable the Wendover Green Tunnel to be built using “cut and cover” techniques.
Evidence presented to the House of Commons and House of Lords Select Committees in 2015 showed that the cutting would intercept the aquifer, and that the groundwater would be diverted into Stokes Brook rather than emerge in the local springs. This watercourse runs west of Stoke Mandeville at Marsh Lane and then onwards past Fairford Leys to feed into the River Thame. (Wendover Flooding Survey - express your concern !)

05-Jun-2020

Euston Approaches - Judge rules in favour of HS2 Ltd

Mr Justice Jay could not conclude on all of the evidence that the ‘Three Tunnels’ design was so inherently flawed in the vicinity of the retaining wall that no engineering solution could be found to construct it safely. He remarked it was impossible to accept that HS2 Ltd was so reckless and wilful as to persevere with a concept that it does not believe can be delivered safely. (Why ??)
Ms Granger-Taylor and her solicitors at Hodge Jones & Allen are seeking permission to appeal the ruling and have seven days to provide their submission. (Crowdjustice)

The main flaw in her argument as written up in the judgement was that at the moment, HS2 is still developing the plans for how it will dig the tunnels, and hence the plans are unsafe, whereas HS2’s counter-argument was that plans cant be deemed unsafe if the plans don’t exist yet. (IanVisits)

(See also, Standard, Ham & High)

04-Jun-2020

Property or land affected by HS2? Your views are wanted

Dame Cheryl said “HS2 Ltd’s compensation and mitigation packages have been extremely poor. Their engagement has historically been awful and continue to require improvement. I know many of my constituent have suffered terribly at the hands of HS2, causing them undue stress. Although, another submission is the last thing on their minds, especially under this pandemic, I am keen to hear from you and pass your comments on to the minister and the Department for Transport.”
If you would like to make a submission to Dame Cheryl, or require further information, please contact her on cheryl.gillan.mp@parliament.uk Deadline for submission is Wednesday 10 June, 5pm.

Along with other MPs on the route of Phase 1 of the railway, Rob has been asked by the HS2 minister, Andrew Stephenson MP, to provide feedback so that the minister can review HS2 Ltd’s current processes.
“This is the moment for local people to speak up about what’s gone wrong, and how it could be improved in future. Time is tight, as I have less than ten days to collect the information, analyse it and then pass it to the minister. So please send your comments by Tuesday 9 June, to rob.butler.mp@parliament.uk with the subject heading “HS2 land and property review. (Mix96)

03-Jun-2020

FOI enforcement stalled

For some time, the (FOI) Campaign has been calling on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to use its power to issue enforcement notices against authorities which repeatedly breach the Freedom of Information Act’s time limits.
Whilst it is understandable that a new enforcement approach would not be introduced at the height of the pandemic, when some authorities are under particular pressure, a robust approach to enforcing FOI time limits is long overdue – and should be reinstated as soon as feasible.

Despite reminders, we are still awaiting an ICO response to our complaint against HS2, submitted in July 2019

Shardeloes - HS2 not guilty ?

EA arrive a day late, find no pollution - more ...

HS2 – Europe’s biggest deforestation project

“Irreplaceable” natural habitat is being destroyed. Wetlands, wildflower meadows and historic wood pasture – including five sites of international importance are to be literally wiped out. (Truepublica)

Please Sir, can we have some more (money ...)

To ask Her Majesty's Government ... on what occasions, if any, either accounting officer has sought a direction from ministers to deviate from approved budgets. (Lord Berkley)

The Chief Executive Officer of HS2 Ltd has been designated as the company’s accounting officer.
No Ministerial Directions have been sought by either accounting officer with respect to HS2. (Baroness Vere)

30-May-2020

Pollution incident at Shardeloes Lake

Far sooner than expected, HS2 have disturbed the aquifer. Just a few boreholes has caused turbidity in Shardeloes lake, on the River Misbourne - see our report. Just wait till the TBMs come through...

29-May-2020

Bat Action Day

HS2 Rebellion national day of Bat-themed Action is to highlight that HS2 is  permanently destroying thousands of potential bat roosts during roosting season (see also, Bucks Herald)

Land and Property Scheme - Feedback

Aylesbury’s MP, Rob Butler, has asked local people for their views on HS2’s property and land programme, including compensation and treatment of local residents.
Along with other MPs on the route of Phase 1 of the railway, Rob has been asked by the HS2 minister, Andrew Stephenson MP, to provide feedback so that the minister can review HS2 Ltd’s current processes, and potentially implement changes for the future. (Wendover News)

27-May-2020

Community Engagement Report - 'Being a Good Neighbour'

HS2 have reported on their Community Engagement, which as we all know is going splendidly, Particularly when it comes to minimising disruption -

"We recognise that construction causes disruption to communities. This commitment considers how communities and stakeholders can influence how we build the railway. How we and our contractors behave is as important to the railway’s success as completing the Project on time and ensuring value for money for taxpayers."

Have you influenced 'how they build the railway' ? If so please let us know, and more importantly, how did you do it ?

24-May-2020

Next Steps for HS2 - Transport Committee write to Stevenson & Thurston

Engagement with local MPs Some communities in towns and villages face serious disruption while the line is being built. It is important that there is a regular dialogue between HS2 Ltd and the representatives of those areas affected by HS2’s construction. We are pleased that you promised to meet with MPs whose constituencies are on the route to address the concerns of local communities (Q34). We will be keen to learn in future how many of these meetings have been held.

22-May-2020

Destruction at Bottom House Farm Lane

Fusion have ripped out most of the hedges on Bottom House Farm Lane, so thwarting attempts to save them (more...)

Outrage over naming of HS2 machines

HS2 asked members of the public to choose the names for their first two giant tunnelling machines that will dig through 10 miles of the Chilterns. (Bucks Free Press)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the cost of holding a public vote on naming the HS2 tunnelling machines. (Cheryl Gillan, TW4U)

(Actually to chose 2 names from a shortlist of 3 - so 'Plague' and 'Pestillence', though topical, are excluded )

17-May-2020

Bad News day ... hope my bonus is safe

High-Speed 2 project managers “blindsided by contact with reality”

The Department and HS2 Ltd were aware of the scale of the project’s cost and schedule overruns as early as October 2018. In March 2019, HS2 Ltd formally advised the Department that it would not be able to deliver Phase One of the programme on time or within the available funding. However, the Permanent Secretary did not make this clear when she appeared before the previous Committee in October 2018 and May 2019, even when asked specific questions about the programme’s delivery timeline and budget.
(Public Accounts Committee, Summary, Conclusions )

Commentary

Among its conclusions, the cross-party committee questioned evidence given by DfT permanent secretary Bernadette Kelly and HS2 Ltd executives Mark Thurston and Michael Bradley.
The report said the trio's appearance before MPs in March 2020 "raised questions about the previous picture provided by the witnesses of the project's health" last year. (BBC)

A damning report  has today concluded that HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport deliberated lied to them about the fact they knew HS2 could not be delivered on time, on budget or on scope, withholding information which would have informed parliament and the public about the true nature of the project. (Stop HS2)

High Speed 2 is "badly off course" and it is unclear that the firm building the £100 billion rail line has the necessary "skills and capability" (Telegraph)
The Public Accounts Committee report into HS2 exposes the Department for Transport’s lack of transparency with Parliament and the public.  This further undermines public confidence that HS2 is necessary or subject to accountable governance.  This is shocking and unacceptable, but hardly comes a surprise: sadly not untypical of other public projects of all sizes. (Sir Bernard Jenkin, PAC member)

PAC deputy chair Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP said HS2’s conduct was among the worst he had come across in his nine years on the committee. He said: "This is a serious breach of the department’s duty to parliament and hence to the public, which as the report says, will undermine confidence. Furthermore, the PAC was in the dark about serious cost overruns and was therefore unable to do its duty to inform parliament that value for money on the project was at risk."
(Construction News)

“Billions of taxpayers’ money has already been wasted, and much more will be in the future unless parliament and ministers get a grip.
“It is time to cancel Phase 1 completely … and finally bury HS2, the company HS2 Ltd and bring to book those who have allowed this to happen.” (Lord Berkley, Camden New Journal)

“Unfortunately, senior transport officials have a strong vested interest in the scheme going ahead. HS2 is a lucrative gravy train, providing them with some of the highest paid jobs in the civil service, so it’s not surprising that they resorted to dishonorable behavior to protect it.
“This damning report hardly inspires confidence in the management of the scheme going forward. It is not too late to cancel HS2 before even more taxpayers’ money is wasted.” (Richard Wellings, IEA)

HS2 is using a revised commercial model with suppliers that means it bears more of the risk of cost increases, according to MPs.
In a report the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said this meant the organisation had better visibility into emerging risks through a “more collaborative, less transactional” relationship with contractors.
However, MPs said they were “not yet convinced” HS2 has the right commercial skills in place and it needed to complete an assessment of where capability is “below that needed to manage the programme”.
(Supply Management)

“We have comprehensively reset the HS2 programme, introducing a revised budget and funding regime, with significant reforms to ensure the project is delivered in a more disciplined and transparent manner.
“This includes appointing the first dedicated HS2 Minister, bi-annual updates to Parliament and establishing a monthly Ministerial Task Force, chaired by the Secretary of State, to ensure the project has a rigorous scrutiny like the 2012 Olympics.” (DfT Response - Railtech Magazine)

See also - Politics Home, Graudiad, ITV news, Daily Express, Bucks Herald, Politics Home (again), Transport Extra and

Previous Reports -

13-May-2020

Hospital Bus Service restored

Our campaign to introduce a shuttle bus to Amersham Hospital (while regular services are diverted - see below) has succeeded - see Bucks Buses announcement and HS2 page.

10-May-2020

Pressure mounts on Boris Johnson to ditch the HS2 rail project

Tory MPs are demanding a rethink for the controversial rail project amid demands for investment in other sectors with fears of a collapse in the farming industry. Boris Johnson defied fierce opposition in his party to back HS2 in February despite fears that costs have already gone out of control. But the latest opponent to demand a rethink is former cabinet minister Esther McVey, the founder of the Blue Collar Conservative movement which won Mr Johnson the former Labour heartland seats in December’s election. (Express)

On yer bike, Grant

Other countries are powering ahead, excited by the possibilities – and what do we get? HS2. HS bloody 2. A 1970s, still-born white elephant, cynical, derivative, corporatist, unimaginative and Southern-centric. A future monument to what Sherelle Jacobs of the Telegraph aptly calls ‘Tory mediocrity’ .(Conservative Woman !!)

 

07-May-2020

 HS2 works in your area

Contractors need to start some junction improvements at a number of locations. These are Amersham, Great Missenden, The A41 junction with The Broadway.
In addition to these we have works taking place near the Chalfont St Peter vent shaft, contractors will be constructing an access road to remove the need of using the more residential route.
The firm says that utility diversions are taking place, or starting soon, between Great Missenden and Aylesbury.These are being undertaken by National Grid. (Bucks Herald)

05-May-2020

Now the gloves are off ...

Having received Notice to Proceed, HS2 have promptly abandoned any pretence of community engagement or consideration for the communities along the route. Today we learned of two local examples -

Blockade of Amersham Hospital. Whielden Lane, which runs from the hospital to the A404, is to be closed for 7 weeks, from 18th May. Bus routes serving the hospital are to be diverted, with the closest stops being at the Crematorium or on Gore Hill. Access by car will be possible via Whielden Street. Should there be no parking available, HS2 suggest a three point turn under the A404 flyover - which will cause chaos once the car parks are full.
We regard it as completely unacceptable to impede access to a hospital, with such short notice, and in the middle of an international pandemic.
(Following our campaign, a shuttle bus will be provided - see 13th May above)

Ecological crimes at Chalfont St Giles. HS2 chose to access the Chalfont St Giles vent shaft site via Bottom House Farm Lane, despite it being completely inadequate for this purpose. For the past year they maintained a pretence that they would relocate the ancient hedges at the far end, to widen the road by 1.5m. No need for that now - it is to be removed, to allow drainage pipes to be laid. Specially trained blind ecologists will be employed to scare off any birds stupid enough to nest there.

Its enough to make you want to lie down in front of the bulldozers ...

04-May-2020

Day of (direct) Action

Monday 4th May saw activists launch a day of disruptive non-violent direct action at sites along the route ... The purpose of the actions was to draw attention to the massive destruction of more than 100 ancient woodlands, serious breaches of environmental legislation, and the escalating costs
Real Media has learned that HS2 Ltd is directly funding a massive police project involving 16 forces, the National Police Chief’s Council and ‘partner agencies’ which is sharing intelligence and co-ordinating operations. The scheme is an enhanced police service agreement under which a private corporation pays for law enforcement.  (Realmedia)

Heavy police response and threats of arrest

As part of HS2 Rebellion's 'Shut The Sites' day the campaigners sat at the entrance to the HS2 site preventing vehicles from gaining access. Similar actions were taking place all along the line from Euston to Warwickshire.
A HS2 Rebellion spokesperson said in a statement: “In Buckinghamshire, three local women successfully blockaded a HS2 compound in Steeple Claydon, sitting beside a banner, stopping vehicles going in to clear trees and hedgerows and highlighting the non-adherence of HS2 workers with Covid-19 guidelines. ( Bucks Advertiser )

HS2 caught breaking coronavirus public health guidelines multiple times in Bucks

Yesterday we were unable to definitively say that the workers photographed using the village stores on 5 May were from the nearby HS2 site, but overnight The Bucks Herald received information confirming that they are.
A day earlier, on 4 May, we were sent photos of HS2 workers clearly standing outside of work site boundaries, which also flouts construction site rules during the pandemic.

Protesters clash with workers as they refuse to leave tree-top camp (Daily Mail)

  • Campaigners climbed atop articulated lorry in Crackley Woods, Warwickshire
  • Police investigating claims an activist was assaulted by a worker on the site
  • Demonstrators have set up camp in protest in the area over the last six weeks 

Anti-HS2 demonstrators have set up camp in woodland tree houses near Kenilworth in a bid to block the high-speed rail development going ahead during the coronavirus crisis. (Forestry Independent)

Demonstrators block worksites on HS2 route but observe social distancing rules

Activists calling themselves HS2 Rebellion claim the construction work is non-essential and that by failing to stop during the lockdown it is putting the lives of workers and their families at risk.(Express)

HS2 Ltd respond to Monday's protests

"Natural England are the government authority that issue the licenses and should be monitoring the works. Natural England at this time have closed because of lockdown which means that HS2 workers are operating entirely unmonitored." (Mix96)

 Impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the construction industry

Planning and Building Control Today’s latest reader survey took on the thorny issue of HS2 – and the results made for some fascinating reading.

 

29-Apr-2020

Ancient Woodland, Birds Nests ...

Countryside Alliance condemn HS2 -
“the Alliance does not endorse any woodland or hedgerow management during the breeding season especially where the project has been planned for years and will take many years to complete. There is no excuse in these circumstances for felling during the breeding season”. (ByLineTimes)

On nesting birds, a spokesperson for HS2 said contractors were "keenly aware of the law", and during nesting season ecologists were present during all habitat clearance work to stop work where necessary. They added: "Felling trees during the nesting season is legal as long as nesting birds are not harmed. When nesting birds are discovered, our team puts a temporary exclusion zone in place until the chicks have fledged." (Of course you do ...) BirdGuides

A new vision needed

The Government and HS2 must reassess the approach they have taken to date and ensure that the impact on the natural environment is fully assessed and plans drastically changed to deliver a net gain for nature. (BBOWT)

No Net Loss ?

HS2 Ltd maintains that the project is consistent with a ‘no net loss’ approach – suggesting that nature will not lose out as a result of the scheme. This commitment is unambitious against a context of changing policy requirements for development to improve nature’s lot. But, it’s also untrue, as HS2 Ltd has shown to be failing on its own commitment. Our report ‘What’s the damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much’ concluded that the proposed scheme will be unacceptably devastating to the natural environment. Without changes, the plans place too many protected sites and the species that depend on them at risk of significant harm. (Wildlife Trusts)

HS2: Not earning our trust

Simply not breaking any laws is not good enough for a project that is claimed as “one of the most environmentally responsible infrastructure projects ever delivered in the UK”. For this to be true, those of us with concerns about HS2 should not need to press for specific legal assurances and undertakings about basic safeguards that should be covered by normal best practice and wildlife law. Sadly, on current experience we might be left with little choice when it comes to future phases of HS2. (RSPB)

28-Apr-2020

Resident wins next step in Euston Approaches case

The High Court has ordered HS2 Ltd to furnish a homeowner in Camden with clearer information pertaining to the safety of its planned ‘Three Tunnels’ design into Euston station.
Jayesh Kunwardia, Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, who represents Ms Granger-Taylor, said:
“If, for whatever reason, HS2 Ltd is unable to deliver the required documentation, or clarify its position on the ‘Three Tunnels’ design more than five days before the hearing on 13/14 May, it’s highly feasible that the HS2 scheme will be deemed by the court to pose a serious risk of causing great damage to properties in the area.”
HJA press release, Twitter, The Week

HS2AAG have donated £500 to support this action

23-Apr-2020

Wendover campaigners frustrated 

Anti HS2 campaigners in Wendover have shared their frustration over workers entering their communities during the coronavirus lockdown (Mix96)

Farage's withering assessment of HS2

"HS2 is overpriced and unwanted, the biggest white elephant the government has launched for years.
"With reduced demand surely in this time of nationals crisis we have more urgent priorities to spend billions on.” (Express)

22-Apr-2020

Amersham and Chesham MP calls for National Audit Office to rescind HS2 'notice to proceed'

“At the very least, with the new 2033 deadline, a calculation should have been made on the expected cost increases,” says Dame Cheryl. “Even before Covid-19, demand was falling. We need to know whether this project is value for money for hard-pressed taxpayers and we need to know it urgently.”(Bucks Herald)

21-Apr-2020

Buckinghamshire Council Reacts

Councillor Martin Tett said: “The opposition of local councils and communities across Buckinghamshire to this ill-conceived project has been unwavering. (BFP)

Government 'understands resident's concerns' (Yeah, right..)

"The Government’s decision to proceed follows careful consideration of Douglas Oakervee’s independent review into HS2, and wider evidence including the imminent Phase One full business case, environmental concerns, as well as a range of other views... (Bucks Herald)

 

20-Apr-2020

Align JV to Build C1 Section 

The Align consortium (Bouygues Travaux Publics / Sir Robert McAlpine / VolkerFitzpatrick) is responsible for the design and construction of the C1 section of the project. This is a 21.6-km stretch north-west of London, and includes an iconic 3.4-kilometre viaduct (the Colne Valley Viaduct) and two 15.75-kilometre tunnels (the Chilterns Tunnels). The works also include construction of cross passages between the two tunnels as well as 5 ventilation shafts. Feasibility studies and preparatory engineering work started in 2017.
Manpower will be stepped up so that more than 1,500 people will be working onsite at peak periods. The contract will run for 66 months (five and a half years). (Tunnel Business )

HS2: what questions remain to be answered?

Future Rail answers the essential questions about this massive and controversial project.

16-Apr-2020

Notice to Proceed - Reaction

  • Press Release, Buckinghamshire MPs
    (Cheryl Gillan, Steve Baker, Rob Butler, Joy Morrisey, Greg Smith)
  • Statement - Bucks Council
  • Bucks MPs 'surprised and disappointed' (Bucks Herald)
  • Ministers have given the Green Light for HS2 (Bucks Free Press)
  • HS2 go-ahead 'shamelessly opportunistic' (Stop HS2)
  • 'Sheer Madness' - Nigel Farrage (Daily Mail)
  • HS2 too big to cancel (Spectator)
  • Matthew Kilcoyne, deputy director of the free-market Adam Smith Institute, called the government's announcement "tone-deaf" in the light of the coronavirus pandemic.(BBC)
  • Somewhere contractors are popping the champagne and consultants carting their fees to the bank. (Simon Jenkins, Grauniad)
  • “The economic case for HS2 was always weak. With the country in the midst of a Covid-19 induced economic downturn, the cost of this rail project – predicted to reach a mammoth £106 billion – is simply unjustifiable. (Inst of Economic Affairs)
  • At the time of giving the notice to proceed earlier this week, the main civils work packages are now set to cost £12bn, suggesting HS2 Ltd and/or the DfT have become much more realistic about the higher cost of work. (New Civil Engineer)

15-Apr-2020

Notice to Proceed given

The Government has given formal approval for the HS2 project to begin construction, saying that work could proceed in line with coronavirus safety guidelines despite the national lockdown.
It has issued a notice to proceed to the companies that will build phase one of the high-speed railway. (Telegraph)

Letter from Stephenson, informing Chair of Transport Select Committee -
"This will ensure that vital work can commence on the Birmingham to London section of HS2, where practical and safe to do so."

So, where is the new Business Case, where is the Demonstration of Competence, as recommended by Oakervee ? Have they told Boris ?

Just in time -

And, the last sentence (p122, just before the appendices start) -

  • HS2 Ltd needs to demonstrate improvements in stakeholder engagement.

13-Apr-2020

Euston Approaches - further hearings

... Submissions from HS2 Ltd and a witness statement from the second Defendant, the Department of Transport, show that there is a fundamental disagreement between them, with the DfT repeating the criticisms of the Three Tunnels Design expressed in the Oakervee Review. See Press Release

11-Apr-2020

Packham to Appeal

Environmental campaigner Chris Packham CBE has announced that he is seeking permission to appeal the decision by the High Court to dismiss his judicial review of the government’s go-ahead on HS2. (Guardian, Local Govt. Lawyer)

However, the court judgement is not very encouraging ...

 

08-Apr-2020

Questions to the DfT

Lord Berkley questioned the DfT about the new HS2 business case, and the improvements in (management) capability which are required before Notice to Proceed can be issued.

07-Apr-2020

Chiltern Society campaign against Notice to Proceed

The society is campaigning to prevent notice to proceed being given during the Covid-19 crisis (Bucks Herald, Bucks Free Press )

03-Apr-2020

Packham case thrown out

The clearing of ancient woods for HS2 is to proceed this month after the high court refused an emergency injunction and judicial review ...
HS2’s felling of woodlands in spring when birds are nesting has been widely condemned by wildlife charities but the conservationist Chris Packham’s attempt to halt “enabling” works was rejected after the court decided there was “no real prospect of success” for a judicial review.
The hearing heard that it would cost £20m–£25m to “press the pause button” on HS2 while a full judicial review of the government’s backing for the £106bn high-speed project could be considered.
Timothy Mould QC, for the secretary of state for transport, said that cost would “come from the public purse. The court will not be seduced into treating that as an insignificant consideration.” (Grauniad, also ByLines,

Chris 'is not giving up' (Twitter)

Challenge to Oakervee review - Mr Packham’s claim that the Oakervee Review deviated from its own terms of reference is supported by witness evidence from the Deputy Chair of the Oakervee Review, Lord Berkeley
(Bucks Free Press, 10/10)

Crackley Woods - Protesters removed

A group of campaigners – supported by Extinction Rebellion – had been living in treehouses within Crackley Woods, Kenilworth, for nine days to halt the destruction, facing daily eviction attempts by the National Eviction Team and HS2 security. Having been denied food and water throughout, they were forcibly removed during Friday’s hearing. Overall eleven people were arrested, with six of those having been in trees and five others on the ground. All have been de-arrested or released on unconditional bail.

Coronavirus will transform UK work and travel

The aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis will transform the way we live, work and travel in the UK, the AA says.
It predicts a permanent reduction in the demand for travel because people have learned during the crisis to use home-working technology. (BBC)

 

01-Apr-2020

HS2 criticised over removal of woodland soils

HS2 is beginning an operation to remove soils from ancient woodlands at a catastrophic time of year for wildlife, according to the Woodland Trust.
Undertaking the controversial “translocation” operation – which also involves felling numerous trees – in six woods in April and not during winter as the high-speed railway originally said it would, was a “betrayal of trust” said the charity’s ecologist. (Grauniad)

27-Mar-2020

Chris Packham begins legal case to halt HS2

Chris Packham is seeking an urgent injunction to immediately halt HS2’s destruction of ancient woodlands as campaigners criticise construction teams for allegedly ignoring the government’s physical distancing rules for coronavirus and endangering local people (Grauniad)

Conservationists warn against HS2 'forest move'

Conservationists have criticised plans to move soil from ancient woodlands in a bid to create new habitat as part of work on the new high speed rail line. (The Ecologist, EndsReport)

HS2 construction paused, meetings postponed

We are working closely with our construction partners to review the works on our construction sites ... Work at the majority of our sites has been paused as we complete this review
We have taken the decision to postpone all face-to-face engagement events and meetings during this period.(HS2)

 

26-Mar-2020

HS2 workers ‘ignoring social distance' protocol (Express)

HS2 pauses Euston works over public health fears (Ham&High)

MP for Aylesbury asks PM if HS2 workers should 'stay at home' (Bucks Herald)

Does the Prime Minister share my concern that the contractors for HS2 limited are not following the very clear Government advice on coronavirus?

25-Mar-2020

Lord Berkeley calls for six month delay

As a former construction engineer, I am well aware that construction is a sector where worker health and safety is a daily concern. Unlike other industries, not following the rules can be a matter of life and death.
“So, I do urge you to close all HS2 construction sites including any temporary works sites for at least 6 months
(RailTech)

24-Mar-2020

Government defends allowing construction work to continue

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said on Tuesday that the Construction Leadership Council had issued guidance to the industry.
He added: “It should continue where it can happen in a way that follows Public Health England and industry guidance.

Aylesbury's MP has written to the minister for HS2, over concerns about work continuing.

"I have been sent photographs that clearly show your contractors are failing to comply with social distancing rules...
(Mix 96, Bucks Herald)

23-Mar-2020 - CV Lockdown Announced

HS2 noise barriers worry the Chilterns

The board says taking a standard approach to noise barriers and fencing in the Chilterns “could leave HS2 open to challenge about whether it has demonstrated the statutory duty of regard to the AONB enshrined in Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 Section 85”. 
Section 85 of the Act says that “in exercising or performing any functions in relation to, or so as to affect, land in an area of outstanding natural beauty”, public bodies must “have regard to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the area”. (Transport Extra)

22-Mar-20

Injunction, continued

[The judge] removed the names of Mr Bishop and Mr Rukin from the injunction without even being asked to do, as she felt they were “Clearly responsible and law-abiding individuals”, and most notably, whilst HS2 Ltd had asked their pair to pay their costs, the judge awarded the costs the other way round, though HS2 Ltd have since refused to pay those costs in full (so please visit the Crowdfunder!!). HS2 were awarded a nine-month injunction, which will kick in at 4pm on Tuesday 24th March (Stop HS2)

12-Mar-2020

Joe Rukin, Matt Bishop named in injunction

HS2 Ltd have launched legal proceedings to evict woodland protectors from both the South Cubbington Wood and Crackley Woods camps ... The crowdfunder  is intended to both help cover the legal costs associated with this case, as well as support the other camps along the route which HS2 Ltd are not taking action against at this time. (Stop HS2)

05-Mar-2020

RSPB verdict on HS2

... we were disappointed not just with the Government's decision to proceed with HS2, but also with the wild claims that it will be an environmentally leading scheme. As an organisation with long experience of ensuring nature-friendly development and given our experience with HS2, we feel it is our responsibility to make it clear that the scheme, as currently stands is a million miles away from this. ( & letter to Grant )

24-Feb-2020

(Deadline for) Time to Take Legal Action Against HS2 - Chris Packham

With your help, my lawyers at Leigh Day will be writing to the Transport Secretary, to the Prime Minister and to HS2 Ltd calling on them to end this destruction now. If they refuse to do so, then I will take the serious but necessary step of challenging them in court - and for an injunction to stop the continued destruction immediately.
There are lots of ways you can help us stop the environmental damage happening because of HS2.
First off, please consider donating to fund the legal challenge! Together we can win this. Thanks to the brilliant “Aarhus Convention”, I can do this for a reasonable cost. But I need your help to raise the legal funds.

20-Feb-2020

Wendover Mined Tunnel

"Cost comparisons of the consented scheme and the tunnelled alternatives were considered in evidence to both committees during the Bill process and the primary conclusion was that the now consented scheme would be less expensive than the tunnelled alternatives." ( Bucks Herald, Mix96 )

19-Feb-2020

Stephenson's Rocket

The music stopped, & Andrew was left holding the parcel (BBC news) The new 'Minister for HS2' represents Pendle, Lancashire (up M6, turn R at Preston). He has consistently voted for HS2, but also campaigns to improve transport in Pendle, so maybe a glimmer of hope ?

16-Feb-2020

 Grant Shapps dismisses idea China could be called in to build HS2

Grant Shapps today dismissed claims China could help build HS2 - swiping that Beijing does not need to worry about laws or property rights.
The Transport Secretary tried to quash the idea saying the government has had no talks with the Chinese about taking a role in the massive scheme. (Daily Mail, Stop HS2 )

13-Feb-2020

Euston Approaches

Prime Minister's Statement, & the Oakervee Review -

Also in section 9, Oakervee Review indicates that the aim now will be to redevelop Euston station as whole:
" This new policy for Euston, if combined with the ‘in-depth study’ mentioned by Oakervee at 9.20, and the redesign of this part of the project which is likely to follow, will evidently put back the start of construction by a further extended period, almost certainly several years. . " (Also - Ham and High )

12-Feb-2020

Johnson backs HS2

When it comes to advocating HS2, it must be said that the task is not made easier by HS2 Ltd, the company concerned. Speaking as a Member of Parliament whose constituency is on the route, I cannot say that HS2 Ltd has distinguished itself in the handling of local communities. As everybody knows, the cost forecasts have exploded, but poor management to date has not detracted from the fundamental value of the project. The review recently conducted by Douglas Oakervee, copies of which will be placed in the Library of the House, leaves no doubt of the clinching case for high-speed rail: a vast increase in capacity, with hundreds of thousands of extra seats, making it much easier for travellers to move up and down our long, narrow country. That means faster journey times. It means not just more capacity, but faster journey times—extraordinarily fast journey times.

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority considers that the first phase can be delivered for its current projected cost of £35 billion to £45 billion in today’s prices. The designs have been improved immeasurably thanks to the tireless contributions of campaigners, including my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Dame Cheryl Gillan), who I do not think is in her place. (Hansard, BBC )

Victoria Prentis (Banbury) (Con)

My right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Dame Cheryl Gillan), who is recovering from a major operation, has asked me to thank the volunteers and donors from all over the nation who have fought against HS2 over the past 11 years. The last three years have given us a few lessons in what gracious defeat looks like, and although I remain worried by the environmental, financial and governance issues of the project, I really do wish it all the best. I was particularly pleased to hear what the Prime Minister said about the northern section and the speed by which he intends to deliver it, and about buses and bikes. I have one ask, on taking a holistic approach to blight; if it is impossible to regrow ancient trees or to get rid of congestion where it exists, can we please compensate communities by, for example, building their local hospital? (Column 719)

Andrew Bridgen

HS2 is unloved and unwanted, and has been grossly mismanaged. It very adversely affects my constituents. Does the Prime Minister appreciate my and my constituents’ concerns that this could well be an albatross around this Government’s and the country’s neck, and does it not set the bar very low for the delivery of infrastructure projects on time and on budget by all future Governments? (Column 722)

>> Reactions

09-Feb-2020

Boris Johnson is set to give HS2 the green light 

The Prime Minister is set to give controversial rail link HS2 the go-ahead this week, it has been reported - despite fears over spiraling costs and news that trains will only be able to travel at their 255mph top speed for half of the route.

Dame Cheryl Gillan, a former Tory Cabinet minister and a keen opponent of HS2, told The Sunday Telegraph: 'One of the justifications was speed and what is now painfully obvious, to keep the costs down both in what they construct and in what they are doing, the speed is going to have to come right down.
'The very raison d'être behind the original justification for the project has gone.' Daily Mail

Boris Johnson to give HS2 green light despite Tory fears

A No 10 source said: “The PM understands the responsibility he has to deliver for everyone who put their trust in the Conservatives in the election. That means transforming the transport and infrastructure links in local areas, particularly in the north. For some this will mean big, ambitious projects – but he has been struck also, by the small changes that will make an even bigger difference to the everyday lives of people across the country – be they roads, rail or other projects.” (Grauniad)

08-Feb-2020

The real reason I am against HS2

Rory Sutherland, Spectator

Use Beeching lines to backtrack on doomed railway

There are two great advantages to discontinued branch lines when the question of their ­restoration is considered. For one, land needed for them has already been acquired and belongs to the nation. Land purchase along with the devastation of great swathes of some of our most beautiful countryside, is a huge negative for HS2. 
Frederick Forsyth, Express

06-Feb-2020

HS2: the need for speed

Yes, it’s been terribly mismanaged. But we still need high-speed rail.
Last Friday, UK prime minister Boris Johnson called the managers of Britain’s second high-speed rail link, HS2, ‘profligate’ and ‘hopeless’. He was right. Yet he is still likely to go ahead with HS2 – spending, perhaps, more than £100 billion on it. And he’d be right to do that, too. (Spiked-online)

Capacity, cost and CO2 – the HS2 arguments roll on;
Will HS2 really benefit the north?
Misinformation abounds in The Guardian’s coverage of HS2

As previously mentioned, the Guardian has this week ‘attempted to capture the key issues’ about High Speed Two in an error-prone series of articles, called ‘HS2: who’s right?‘.
In this blogpost, the focus is on some claims from Patrick Barkham’s article of 2 February, and the Editorial of 5 February. (Beleben)

Apology after families not told relatives would be reburied during HS2 work

A representative for the Church Commissioners has apologised after individuals were not told that their relatives were to be reburied due to HS2 construction work.
Second Church Estates Commissioner Andrew Selous said he was "extremely sorry" that a woman had found out about the exhumation of her great-great-grandfather by accident. (Birmingham Mail)

05-Feb-2020

Lord Berkeley addresses government in letter to Grant Shapps over HS2

One of the most prominent dissenting voices on the project, Lord Berkeley, addressed a letter (dated February 4, 2020) to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, outlining the improvements which could be made to existing rail network and train services should HS2 not be built.
Copies of the correspondence were sent to the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
(RailTechnology
, StopHS2)

HS2 decision is delayed: the Government is warned the full cost could reach £150 BILLION

Today the TaxPayers Alliance reiterated its opinion that it is too expensive and should be abandoned.
The estimated worst-case cost of HS2 is currently estimated at £106billion, but the TPA suggested it could eventually reach £150billion.
In a letter to Boris Johnson it urged a rethink, writing that 'given the undoubtedly rising costs, it is prudent to consider the deliverability of the project'. (Daily Mail)

HS2 is the only major project [with] seven amber/red warnings in a row since 2013 from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. (Mix96)

Oxford-Cambridge rail scheme’s “net gain” commitment shows HS2 failing nature, says RSPB

RSPB Operations Director Jeff Knott said: “Given the very negative response of HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport to the numerous concerns that have been raised about the scheme’s impacts on wildlife, it is something of a revelation that another national rail scheme [East-West Rail] right next door is making such positive noises about its intent towards nature.
“Everything we understand about HS2’s likely environmental impacts points to the high price it will exact from nature. Given the enormous challenges we are facing with the loss of wildlife and habitats, climate change and the threat to ecosystems, it’s not a price we should even be considering making nature pay.” (Envirotec)

HS2 company branded 'chronically inefficient and institutionally callous'

Conservative MP Jeremy Wright (Kenilworth and Southam) took aim at HS2 Limited over their handling of the project, which has been delayed.
The former culture secretary said that those affected by the construction of the high-speed line, which aims to link London to the Midlands and the North, must be treated "fairly and with decency".
"People whose homes, businesses and farmland will be demolished, diminished or devalued by HS2 have a right to be treated fairly and with decency.
"In the decade of this project's development, and in my experience as a constituency member of Parliament, they too often have not been. (Birmingham Mail)

3,4-Feb-2020

HS2 must prove that their 'Euston Approaches' design is not dangerous

The Court Order following on from my successful Judicial Review permission hearing on 16 January has now been issued: HS2 Ltd must produce the evidence in support of their position (that their Three Tunnels design is not dangerous) by 17 February. This evidence should include the drawings and other documents which we had been repeatedly requesting from July 2018.(CrowdJustice)

Wildlife Trusts Petition

Today a letter from The Wildlife Trusts, signed by over 66,000 people will be delivered to 10 Downing Street highlighting the huge risks that HS2 poses to the environment, and asking the Prime Minister to ensure that the impact on nature is properly assessed as a matter of urgency.( & The Ecologist)

HS2 handed £500m demand after incorrectly reclaiming VAT

The tax authority ruled that HS2 Limited should not have reclaimed £569.1 million incurred on design and construction between 2014 and 2019.
A spokeswoman for HS2 Ltd confirmed that the money had been returned after the three-year investigation by HMRC concluded in June (Business Matters)
£5m/week wont even buy you a decent accountant thewse days ?

Can the cost of HS2 be Justified ?

Every escalation in costs has dented the economic case for HS2 – £106bn equates to an astonishing £307m per mile to build 345 miles of high-speed track. (Grauniad)

HS2's northern critics: 'We don't need it but we'll be paying for it'

In the north of England, the arguments over whether to push on with the HS2 project are as polarised as they are in Westminster. (Grauniad)

 

01-Feb-2020

HS2 Millstone

BORIS JOHNSON has be warned his decision on the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project could define his tenure as Prime Minister.
Ahead of the announcement, campaign manager for the StopHS2 group, Joe Rukin warned if the Prime Minister pushes forward with the project, it will be the “millstone around his neck”.
He told Express.co.uk: “For the next 10-15 years, whenever a school closes or when there aren’t enough police, someone will say you gave away money for HS2.

In a further blow to the project, in a National Audit Office (NOA) review published on January 24, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) claimed “the delivery of the programme appears to be unachievable”.
Under the criteria set out by the IPA, an “unachievable” project would be placed under the red rating - the worst which can be given.( Express)

Sir Bill Cash hits out at pro-HS2 Tories

The Stone MP said that by supporting the controversial line, the likes of West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Chancellor Sajid Javid had tied themselves to an "unjustified white elephant", while disregarding the strong case for improving local train services in areas such as the West Midlands.
He also warned that the final cost of HS2 would soar past the current estimate of £106bn – a figure which is already triple its original budget. (Express and Star)

Jan-2020

Bad Press for HS2

So much of it - here are a few items -

  • HS2 should be “binned”, critics have claimed,
    with ITV’s political editor Robert Peston suggesting the estimated overall cost of £106 billion exceeded the total funds available for infrastructure in the lifetime of the current Parliament (Express)
  • HS2 costs could rise to £106bn or more
    The review, which was leaked to the Financial Times, also called for work on the second phase of the link – from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds – to be put on hold for six months (Grauniad)
  • Hopelessly out of date and ruinously expensive
    for a great many Conservatives the biggest target of all will be HS2, which is easily the most expensive project in Government. And one that, most believe, is already dead in the water. (Telegraph)
  • Andrew Gilligan urges Boris Johnson to axe HS2 in the South
    Transport adviser Andrew Gilligan has been lobbying the party’s newly elected MPs to support the cancellation of the phase one  Birmingham to London  leg of the controversial high-speed rail route.
    (Daily Mail)
  • Realistic [project] delivery timelines are needed
    The commitment to infrastructure is welcome, but we must set realistic delivery timelines and avoid, where possible, the delays we are encountering on Crossrail and HS2. (New Civil Engineer)
  • Time to slaughter the HS2 white elephant
    Big, expensive projects are being sized up – and the London-to-Birmingham super-train could well be for the chop.(Telegraph)
  • HS2’s financial case gets weaker and weaker – but has its political justification held up any better?
    (Lord Berkley) argues, not unreasonably, that the original budget was so unreasonable as to amount to deliberately misleading Parliament in order to secure consent for the project. (Conservative Home)

31-Jan-2020

In a Hole ? Keep digging ! (?)

Boris Johnson has said the Government must “keep digging” on HS2, in an indication he could be about to give the controversial rail project the go-ahead. ( Press association )

The PM seemed to confirm the go-ahead for the controversial £100billion project in an interview with a 10-year-old on Sky News. (Express)

Nigel Farage lashes out at Boris Johnson

Sajid Javid, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was reported to have thrown his support behind high-speed railway HS2. ...  Nigel Farage slammed Boris Johnson over this and accused the Prime Minister of being a “continuation of everything we saw under David Cameron and Theresa May”. Express

 

30-Jan-2020

New Chair of Transport Select Committee

Mr Merriman has consistently voted in support of HS2 and consistently voted against a publicly-owned railway system - something which may place him at odds with the prevailing public mood and the apparent failure of various rail franchises.
He voted against a proposal to even allow, but not require, High Speed 2 passenger services to be run by the public sector operators. (Transport Network)

Cost of HS2 up by 85% - National Audit Office

UK’s public spending watchdog National Audit Office has revealed that the cost of the main civil engineering works on the first phase of HS2 has increased by 85%, or almost GBP 5 billion. They said that costs for the 140-mile section of the route between London and Birmingham had risen from GBP 5.8 billion in April 2017 to GBP 10.7 billion by October 2019. In its report, High Speed Two: A Progress Update, the NAO said: “The High Speed Two railway is over budget and behind schedule because the Department for Transport (DfT), HS2 and wider government have underestimated its complexity and risk.” ( SteelGuru )

29-Jan-2020

Old Oak Common Cock-Up

Car Giant stay put (Standard)

HS2 decision tomorrow (Bucks Free Press), 'very shortly' (Rail Advent)

Johnson orders Emergency Summit (Politics Home), Chancellor backs project (BBC)

The chancellor is expected to tell the PM he supports the controversial London to Birmingham rail link after studying Treasury analysis of its impact,

28-Jan-2020

Join the Fight against HS2 - Chris Packham

With your help, my lawyers at Leigh Day will be writing to the Transport Secretary, to the Prime Minister and to HS2 Ltd calling on them to end this destruction now. If they refuse to do so, then I will take the serious but necessary step of challenging them in court - and for an injunction to stop the continued destruction immediately.

Alternatives to HS2

A list of potential improvements to mainline rail services as an alternative to HS2 has been unveiled by the deputy chairman of a Government-commissioned review into the high-speed railway. (Press Assoc/Belfast Telegraph, Daily Telegraph )

24-Jan-2020

High Speed 2: A progress update

Today’s report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has found that the High Speed Two railway is over budget and behind schedule because the Department for Transport (DfT), HS2 Ltd and wider government have underestimated its complexity and risk. Significant challenges to completing the programme and delivering value for taxpayers and passengers remain.

DfT’s latest estimate of the cost of HS2 is between £65 billion and £88 billion (2015 prices), between 17% and 58% over available funding. The programme is still at an early stage, and costs are uncertain and could change. Full services on the entire network are now forecast to start between 2036 and 2040, between three and seven years later than originally planned.

(But otherwise OK then ?? )

Press reaction

More good news coverage for HS2 -

  • Scrap HS2 and spend the money on potholes! - Daily Mail
  • HS2 is billions over budget -
    Dame Cheryl Gillan continues to voice her objections to HS2 as the National Audit Office published their report on the project today stating that it's 'over budget and behind schedule'... how many critical reports into HS2 do we need before we decide to cancel the entire project? (Bucks Free Press)
  • HS2 risks misjudged from the start
    the NAO said that the DfT and HS2 Ltd "have not adequately managed risks to taxpayer money"... "Significant challenges to completing the programme and delivering value for taxpayers and shareholders remain," the NAO report said. (BBC !!)
    This is a slap on the wrist for HS2 Ltd (Tom 'we need to get to Salford' Burridge)
  • New fears over where HS2 is going -
    The UK is building a railway which is heading to fantasy land - and the taxpayer is funding the journey. (ITV)
  • The final cost of the already over budget HS2 project is 'impossible to estimate' (LBC)
  • HS2 is 'Out of Control'
    Aylesbury MP Rob Butler said: "This report from the NAO confirms what we feared. HS2 is out of control, even before the first track has been laid. (Mix 96)
  • HS2 is becoming increasingly difficult to justify - Spectator
  • Johnson’s HS2 bind - Christian Wolmar
  • The Lib Dems must abandon their support for HS2
    our party must abandon the financially wanton and environmentally destructive vanity project we know as High Speed 2. (Lib Dem Voice... 'Et Tu ??'
  • The Department for Transport (DfT) has “not adequately managed risks to taxpayer money” on HS2, according to a report by the National Audit Office (New Statesman)

19-Jan-2020

Protestors reclaim Harvil Road camp

Climate activists have reclaimed a high speed rail (HS2) protest camp site in west London, a week after bailiffs kicked them out. Thirty people retook the camp on Saturday at the Harvil Road site, in the London borough of Hillingdon, while hundreds joined Extinction Rebellion (XR)’s “day of action.” (Morning Star, The Canary)

17-Jan-2020

Euston Approaches

Resident wins right to bring legal case against HS2 Ltd for tunnel design under Euston which poses ‘catastrophic’ threat to lives and property (more, and previous ); Ham & High

Protesters camp in Trees

Today's clash comes a week after a nearby campaign site (Harvil Road) in a field in Uxbridge was closed down by bailiffs... After the field camp was shut down some protesters moved into the forest, but say the nearby pathway was blocked off by HS2 bailiffs and they were in effect fenced in. (Sky News & Video )

15-Jan-2020

Ask for HS2 to be stopped

A letter to the Prime Minister from the Wildlife Trusts

"Our new report shows HS2 will destroy or significantly impact 108 irreplaceable ancient woodlands, which have been around since the 1600s, 33 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 693 Local Wildlife Sites and 21 Local Nature Reserves, among other precious habitats."

Sign the Letter here; while signing, you are invited to add your own comments, which will presumably end up in an appendix, somewhere or other. The Chilterns is the only AONB on the route, a fact which seems to have been overlooked by the authors of the letter, so there are several points which could be made -

  • There are no 'Green' (i.e. wide ) bridges specified for the above ground section of the line, between South Heath and Wendover, to allow wildlife to cross the line.
  • The line poses a threat to the aquifer under the Chilterns, and so to the chalk streams, an internationally rare environment
  • So called 'preliminary' works have already resulted in considerable destruction of hedgerows, and a major road to the tunnel portal above Great Missenden.

Press Coverage - Stop HS2, Grauniad, BBC, The Ecologist, Parliamentary Review, Bucks Free Press, Daily Mail, The Ecologist

Woods under Threat (Woodland Trust )

Petition on Change.org

By Matthew Bishop - We want the Government to halt HS2 works. Hold a proper independent inquiry

13-Jan-2020

HS2 'too expensive' say London businesses

  • Most business leaders in London believe the HS2 high-speed rail project costs too much and will cause too much disruption while being built, a study suggests. (The Ecologist)
  • HS2 'too costly and too disruptive' say London's business leaders (Telegraph)
  • Almost three-quarters, 74 per cent, of London businesses think the controversial HS2 rail line has become too expensive
    ...Majority concern about its necessity, costs and disruption, leave a clear challenge for the promoters of the project to effectively convey that the project is worth its mounting cost. (City AM)

HS2 protest groups meet in Wendover

After we reported on the camp in Wendover, Anti-HS2 SOC members ... went along to show solidarity with their fellow protesters (Bucks Herald)

Aylesbury's MP (Rob Butler) continues to fight against HS2

Following my conversation with Chancellor Sajid Javid today, I've sent him this letter questioning whether the Oakervee review has really carried out a thorough, independent check on HS2 & asking for proof of the economic & business case (Mix96)

11-Jan-2020

Habitat destroyed at Calvert Jubilee

HS2, the controversial high-speed rail scheme, cleared habitat from its Calvert Jubilee nature reserve without receiving permission. (BirdGuides,

07-Jan-2020

Evictions at Harvil Road

Today, HS2 Ltd decided to evict the Harvil Road HS2 protection camp in Harefield, despite the fact that protestors had legal occupation of the land under the Criminal Law Act 1977 (Stop HS2)

The protesters are opposing the eviction and claim HS2 and the bailiffs are acting unlawfully as they have not served the demonstrators with high court eviction notices ordering them to vacate the land. (Grauniad)

05-Jan-2020

The Berkley Review

Lord Berkley releases his report on the project - see our Review Page

04-Jan-2020

Wendover Active Resistance

A new camp has been established outside Wendover, off the A413 (StopHS2, Facebook, Bucks Herald, ITV news )

Earlier News >>>