Docstoc

Q1

Document Sample
Q1 Powered By Docstoc
					 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


Q1. This question is about the strategy and wider context (Chapter 1 of the main
consultation document): Do you agree that there is a strong case for enhancing the
capacity and performance of Britain‟s inter-city rail network to support economic
growth over the coming decades?

1.1 This Council agrees with the 51m position that there is likely to be a need for
    some increased capacity on the inter-city rail system in the next few years but it
    does not believe in any way that the solution to the provision of this additional
    capacity is HS2.

1.2 This Council agrees with the 51m position that there is likely to be a need for
    some increased capacity on the inter-city rail system in the next few years. We
    agree that there is not by some margin the level of need set out in the business
    case; capacity enhancements should not be provided in a massively expensive and
    high risk project and that the opportunity costs are far too high – there are better
    and quicker ways to get the national and regional economies moving.

1.3 The Government needs to think more fully about the regeneration case – Local
    Authorities based in the North and Midlands instinctively will ask for their share
    of the cake in public investment decisions, believing that they have not had their
    share in the past. However, Government must:-

           (i)     Be clear on the value for money issues.
           (ii)    Be clear that HS2 will not create unintended consequences, eg
                   reinforce the dominance of London, and its labour catchment area,
                   and will not result in the desired high tech, manufacturing or head
                   office investment in the North and Midlands (developed in the
                   response to Question 3).
           (iii)   The Government‟s own National Infrastructure Plan, published in
                   October 2010 states: 4.2 In addition, the Government has identified
                   a new hierarchy for infrastructure investment that builds on the
                   approach to capital investment in the Spending Review to inform
                   investment decisions.
                    Maintenance and smarter use of assets. The priority is to
                      make the best use of the extensive assets that are already in
                      place through maintenance and demand management. There
                      needs to be a much stronger emphasis on use of innovative
                      demand management without stifling growth. For example, the
                      managed motorways programme is using technology to
                      maximise the available capacity, varying speed limits and
                      enabling use of the hard shoulder at busy times.
                    Targeted action to tackle network stress points and develop
                      networks. Where maintenance and demand management
                      investment needs to be supplemented, the focus of new capital
                      investment should be on pinch points to enhance resilience and
                      capacity of the network overall and where new networks need to
                      be developed. Small investments can often be much more cost
                      effective in tackling issues like congestion.
                    Transformational large scale capital projects. Significant
                      investment in new or replacement infrastructure should only be


                                           -1-
    CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


                           considered where it is a part of a clear long term strategy, is
                           affordable and where maintenance or small scale investment
                           will not meet future need.
                        There is no such strategy to underpin HS2 and there are
                        alternatives, such as the development of Rail Package 2, which
                        have not been fully considered. HS2 does not make better use of
                        existing assets and does not address stress points or the railway
                        network as a whole.

               (iv)     The Government is not following the advice of its own and
                        immediate predecessor reports:

                        “…because the UK is already well connected, the key economic
                        challenge is therefore to improve the performance of the existing
                        network… There are very high returns from making best use of
                        existing networks [with…] large projects with speculative benefits
                        and relying on untested technology, are unlikely to generate
                        attractive returns” (Eddington 2007).

                        “…there should be a move away from „predict and provide‟ to
                        „predict, manage and provide‟, with much better use of existing
                        system capacity” (McNulty 2011).

                        The Department of Transport‟s predict and provide approach to
                        motorway building had been discredited by the 1980s.

               (v)      The project has been discredited by many commenters, most
                        recently by the respected economic think tank: the Institute of
                        Economic Affairs:

                        “High Speed 2 is another political vanity project – like Concorde
                        and the Millennium Dome – being ploughed ahead with complete
                        disregard for properly thought-through commercial prospects or
                        the mounting opposition to it.

                        Its environmental credentials are questionable, its projected
                        passenger figures suspect, and its proposed regenerative effects
                        highly dubious.

                        Proceeding with HS2 plans is a recipe for disaster and, as always,
                        it will be the forever-embattled British taxpayer who will end up
                        footing the bill for this latest white elephant.”1

Q2. This question is about the case for high speed rail (Chapter 2 of the main
consultation document): Do you agree that a national high speed rail network from
London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester (the Y network) would provide the
best value for money solution (best balance of costs and benefits) for enhancing rail
capacity and performance?

1
    Dr Richard Wellings: High Speed 2: the next government project disaster?


                                                  -2-
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future




2.1 No.

2.2 We agree with the 51m stance that:-

 The UK is not comparable with Europe in terms of HSR as distances are much
  shorter and we already have a modern 125mph railway (WCML) compared with
  slow European classic networks and thus journey time savings will be far less than
  has been experienced in Europe.

 Demand growth predicted by the DfT on the classic network can be provided for
  by increasing capacity on the WCML as and when required, predominately by
  lengthening and reconfiguring trains with limited infrastructure. This argument is
  strengthened even further when the Chiltern Evergreen 3 project, being delivered
  this year, is taken into account. The Government should be looking to provide low
  risk solutions with public funds.

 The ability to run 18 trains per hour is not supported by the evidence and this has a
  significant negative impact on the HS2 business case.

 Use of a realistic “do minimum” case would significantly reduce the comparative
  benefits of HS2.

 If HS2 and alternatives were compared against the same base, the case for HS2
  would be weaker.

 There are serious concerns about the demand forecasts produced by the DfT which
  leads to the conclusion that the lessons of previous optimistic forecasts have not
  been learnt. Sensitivity tests and more severe downside assumption should be
  factored into the evaluation, which would have a major impact on the business
  case.

 There are serious flaws in the assumptions upon which the benefits analysis is
  based and even if you make a conservative adjustment for these failings, the
  overall business case would be seriously undermined.

 There is a great deal of work to do on the economic case before a decision can be
  made for HS2 to proceed.

2.3 We make the following additional points of emphasis.

(1) We consider insufficient attention has been paid to the need for inter-city
connectivity. Links to London, even by international comparisons, are already good.
Looking at inter-city links, HS2 does nothing for the extremely poor services between
Manchester and Sheffield, the slow (but frequent) Leeds-Manchester services.
Newcastle, Teeside, Bristol, Exeter, Cardiff, Liverpool and Hull remain out on a limb.
This accounts for the low level of diversion from the private car – only 7%.
Consequently, the Government should be investing in improving the network as a
whole rather than creating premium services with public subsidy for a narrower range
of destinations.


                                           -3-
    CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future




A very good example of this approach to improving the networks is Chiltern Railways
Evergreen 3, with increased speed and capacity on the Marylebone-Birmingham link.
The existing service is well regarded locally for its reliability, frequency and
competitive walk on fares. Its connectivity with other services is also being improved
– the only disadvantage is the Moor Street/Snow Hill destination is less useful than
New Street. HS2 will of course create another, even less convenient, terminal in
Birmingham; 10 minutes walk from New Street with any improved linkages an
addition to the costs in the business case. A particular attraction with Chiltern
Railways is the good „door to door‟ times because of accessibility of stations on foot
or by cycle plus good parking. This enhances convenient travel opportunities and
provides the real prospect of car journeys diverted from the M40.

(2) Given the context of transport capital funding being reduced by 11% in the 2010
spending review, cost effective improvements to the network become even more
important. Rail is a particularly inefficient industry – efficiency savings of 20-30%
are required (McNulty). This means a £16bn annual cost reduction by 2018.

(3) We have grave doubts over the calculation of transport user benefits.

“Research also shows that the level of productivity that can be achieved on a train is
very similar to that which can be achieved at a normal workplace. For instance, the
Mott MacDonald IWT Consortium study in 2008 found that the average productivity
factor – or the amount of working time needed if work were done at the normal
workplace relative to that on a train – is between 96% and 98%, depending on the
duration of the train journey. However, this is at odds with earlier studies, which
have suggested that around 10-20% of rail travel time may be productive. There are
three potential effects of including productive use of travel time in the appraisal:-

 it would reduce the benefits attributed to the reduction in travel time because the
  value placed on these time savings is dependent on how much the time spent
  travelling costs the employer, which would then be negligible/significantly lower;
 it would increase the benefits for passengers remaining on conventional services,
  who would experience less crowded conditions (currently, the only benefit from
  reducing crowding is reduced discomfort);
 it would increase the benefits when passengers switch from other modes if they can
  work more productively on HS2 than on their previous mode of travel.2

We trust the Secretary of State‟s decision will be informed by this independent
research commissioned by the Transport Select Committee.

(4) The Government needs to be in tune with what the public say to it on transport
policy.

“The prime wishes of the public as regards transport are a reduction in the number of
potholes and lower charges for fuel; lower rail fares come way down the agenda, let
along the building of High Speed Rail. The public, let along industry, are not really

2
 Review of the Government‟s Case for High Speed Rail Programme. Report for the Transport Select
Committee, prepared by Oxera, 20 June 2011


                                              -4-
    CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


engaged in the case for it.” These concerns certainly echoed by local residents in
Chiltern.3

Q3. This question is about how to deliver the Government’s proposed network
(Chapter 3 of the main consultation document): Do you agree with the
Government‟s proposals for the phased roll-out of a national high speed rail network,
and for links to Heathrow Airport and the High Speed 1 line to the Channel Tunnel?

3.1 No.

3.2 We agree with 51m‟s conclusion that there is no economic case for providing
    links to Heathrow and HS1. This is compounded by there being no train paths for
    these services.

3.3 It is clear that the operation of through services will require significant
   unjustifiable subsidies which will worsen even further the benefit cost ratio for
   HS2. The link will increase capital costs, reduce capacity into Euston and reduce
   overall reliability.

3.4 A supporting argument often used for the HS2 connections to both Heathrow and
    HS1 is that it will reduce domestic air travel and thus have significant carbon
    emission benefits; however it is clear that the aviation industry has a different
    viewpoint. Nigel Milton, Director of Policy for BAA at Heathrow, stated in
    March 2011:

“No sensible, well-informed person still seriously pretends HS2 is a green alternative
to a third runway. The question now is given no third runway, how we can maximise
the effectiveness of our limited capacity at Heathrow. That means more long-haul
flights…every time BMI or British Airways have cancelled a domestic route in the
past they‟ve replaced it with a more profitable medium- or long- haul route. That‟s
exactly what will happen when HS2 comes and more domestic routes get cut.”

3.5 The response to this questions links back to Q1 and the need for a clear national
    policy on infrastructure and transport, including airports.

Q4. This question is about the specification for the line between London and the
West Midlands (Chapter 4 of the main consultation document): Do you agree
with the principles and specification used by HS2 Ltd to underpin its proposals for
new high speed rail lines and the route selection process HS2 Ltd undertook?

4.1 No.

4.2 The DfT has failed to properly consider alternatives, and using a „cart before the
    horse‟ approach has reached a view on the principles of HS2 before it being
    necessary or desirable.

4.3 We agree with the 51m response.

3
    HS2 and National Policies, Modern Railways, July 2011 Prof Stephen Glaister



                                                 -5-
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future




4.4 We would add that commuter, business and leisure traveller have different needs
    and ways of using trains. Thus the value of IT facilities and luggage varies.
    Japanese Shinkansen trains are so confined for space anything more than an
    overnight bag has to be conveyed separately by van leading to adverse carbon
    impact. The current generation UK trains are far more luggage friendly and better
    designed for the leisure traveller. The current proposal seems to be to create a
    high speed commuter route.

4.5 Business travellers value frequency and reliability – the walk on facility so
   popular on Chiltern Railways. The ECML diesel sets are still popular because of
   their reliability on travel times. Current thinking seems to be to make trains more
   like planes – terminal to terminal with no stops which is a retrograde step and
   diminishes the value of the network as a whole.

Q5. This question is about the route for the line between London and the West
Midlands (Chapter 5 and Annex B of the main consultation document): Do you
agree that the Government‟s proposed route, including the approach proposed for
mitigating its impacts, is the best option for a new high speed rail line between
London the West Midlands?

5.1 There are so many problems with the consideration of the environmental impacts,
    and therefore route selection, that it is not possible to make informed comments
    on optimum routes or mitigation. We consider this further with our response to
    Q6.

Q6. This question is about the Appraisal of Sustainability (Chapter 5 of the main
consultation document):       Do you wish to comment on the Appraisal of
Sustainability of the Government‟s proposed route between London and the West
Midlands that has been published to inform this consultation?

6.1 These comments relate to Q5 and Q6 – we consider that the Appraisal of
   Sustainability is inadequate and flawed.

6.2 We agree with 51m‟s comments on the Appraisal on Sustainability (AoS) and
    approach to mitigation. We do have particular concerns because of the unique
    character of our area which comprises Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and
    Green Belt.

6.3 72% of the area of Chiltern District is designated as an Area of Outstanding
    Natural Beauty and 88% lies within the Metropolitan Green Belt. Located just 25
    miles north west of London and just outside the M25, the capital can be reached in
    about 30 minutes by rail (Chiltern Railways Aylesbury and Birmingham lines)
    and the LUL Metropolitan line. Chiltern‟s overall population is 90,900 and
    growing – the level of development and outward pressure from London were the
    reasons why the area was designated as Green Belt. That development
    commenced in the early part of the 20th century when „Metroland‟ was created:
    rail investment was followed by residential development, characterised by John




                                           -6-
    CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


      Betjeman, who also referred to an earlier grandiose scheme for linking the north
      with Paris and Europe.4

6.4 We are now faced with another grandiose scheme, and the experience of our
    community illustrates the impact of rail investment on property values – but not
    the commercial and industrial official values and activity so important in the
    regeneration of the midlands and north of England economy, but residential
    property and the outward spread of communities. Birmingham will have
    comparable travel times to the capital to the original Metropolitan line journey
    from Baker Street to Amersham. The labour catchment area – daily and weekly
    commuters – will be extended as a consequence. This centralising tendency is the
    reverse of what the Government apparently intends. HS2 will make it quicker to
    get to London from a small range of locations, and the commuting/travelling
    distance will extend to those locations.

6.5 We have divided our assessment of the sustainability impacts into the economic
    and distributive impacts, green belt and AONB; the Government‟s commitment to
    overhaul planning policy; localism and local environmental impacts.

(1) Economic and Distributive Impacts

6.6 We are concerned that the Government has not thought through the economic and
    distributive impacts of HS2. These themes were picked up in the Oxera report.

HS2 Ltd stresses the need for high-speed rail to be fully integrated into local and
regional economic and spatial strategies in order that maximum economic benefits
are obtained.

This is likely to be an important enabling factor in the Government‟s desire to see the
high speed network changing the economic geography of the country:

          The Government believes that high speed rail can play an important role in
          promoting valuable strategic change in the economic geography of Britain,
          supporting sustainable long-term growth and reducing regional disparities.

In practice, there are likely to be higher benefits in the vicinity of high speed rail
hubs, so the „regeneration‟ benefits to those areas are likely to be understated.
However, these may be offset by economic losses in other areas, including locations
not served by the high speed line – the „tunnel effect‟. Thus, the London and
Birmingham economies might benefit partly at the expense of areas not served by the
new scheme. The precise impacts will depend on the reallocation of conventional
services on the WCML and elsewhere.

The AoS does note that there could be inter- and intra-regional redistributive impacts,
and that people may be attracted to locate around HS2 stations in London or
Birmingham, at the expense of other parts of those cities or other cities in the UK. In
its April 2011 document, HS2 Ltd forecasts the monetised impacts of transport
benefits and WEIs by region, calculating that 34% of benefits (by origin of trip) will

4
    BBC TV 1973 Metroland (reissued on DVD)


                                              -7-
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


go to those from London. It also notes that the longer-distance rail users who will be
the principal beneficiaries of high speed rail are likely to be from London,
Birmingham, Manchester and their surrounding areas.

However, a number of impacts of the proposed scheme have been assessed at the
route level only. This prevents a clear indication of whether the benefits or costs are
concentrated in certain regions. Some of these factors include:

 the change in carbon emissions as a result of modal shift and change in total
  emissions (the carbon emissions from construction have been assessed by route
  section);
 planned regional growth (major housing and other developments have been
  assessed by route section);
 the impact of the scheme on reducing health inequalities.

When the AoS does assess benefits and costs by route section, it is not clear whether
certain regions benefit at the expense of others. Furthermore, the only regions that
are assessed in detail in terms of economic impacts are the catchment areas
surrounding key stations on the line.
………

There is evidence that those cities where the service sector (including tourism) counts
for a large proportion of the economy, are the most likely to benefit from access to
high speed lines. London is thus very likely to benefit, possibly at the expense of less
service-oriented cities on the line. In fact, a large proportion of the quantified
benefits (34%) in the Economic Case are to long-distance passengers from London,
so the regeneration effects (if they exist) would be large in London.

The AoS does not assess many distributional implications between regions along the
route, although it states that one of the aims of HS2 is to reduce disparities between
London and the rest of the UK. For this reason, it would be of interest to assess all of
the benefits of the scheme by route section. While some benefits of the scheme are
assessed in this way in the AoS, many of the significant effects – such as benefits for
commuters/consumers, agglomeration, maintaining/improving access to public
transport – are assessed at the route level, and therefore it is not clear if there are
disparities in benefits/costs between different parts of the route.

(2) Green Belt and AONB

6.7 The metropolitan Green Belt and later Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
    designations were introduced to prevent further development – „urban sprawl‟,
    and enhance the natural environment.

The purpose of the Green Belt is:-

       To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built –up areas
       To prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another
       To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
       To preserve the setting and character of historic towns



                                           -8-
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


       To assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and
       other urban land.

6.8 The most relevant are highlighted in bold above (PPG 2 Green Belt, 2001).

Para 1.7 says that “the purposes of including land in green belts are of paramount
importance to their continued protection, and should take precedence over the land
use objectives” – in other words, the quality of landscape within the green belts is not
relevant to the inclusion of land within them. But the purposes are paramount.

Para 3.1: The general policies controlling development in the countryside apply with
equal force in green belts but there is, in addition, a general presumption against
inappropriate development within them. Such development should not be approved,
except in very special circumstances. ……..

3.2: Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the green belt. It is for
the applicant to show why permission should be granted. Very special circumstances
to justify inappropriate development will not exist unless the harm by reason of
inappropriateness, and any other harm, is clearly outweighed by other
considerations. In view of the presumption against inappropriate development, the
Secretary of State will attach substantial weight to the harm to the green belt when
considering any planning application or appeal concerning such development.

6.9 Since a railway is not amongst the “appropriate” uses, it is by definition harmful
    to the green belt and it would be for the applicant to demonstrate very special
    circumstances why it should be allowed. It is clear from the evidence submitted
    to the Transport Select Committee and as part of the consultation response that the
    proposal manifestly fails the green belt test because of its flawed business case.

6.10 Further (para 3.12) the statutory definition of development includes engineering
     and other operations, and the making of any material change in the use of land.
     The carrying out of such operations and the making of material changes in the
     use of land are inappropriate development unless they maintain openness and do
     not conflict with the purposes of including land in the green belt.

6.11 Clearly a railway, even if defined as “operations”, would conflict with the
     purposes as set out in bold above, and we are back to the justification of
     “inappropriate development”.

6.12 In para 3.13, when any large-scale development or redevelopment of land occurs
      in the green belt (including mineral extraction, the tipping of waste, and road
      and other infrastructure developments or improvements,) it should, so far as
      possible contribute to the achievements of the objectives for the use of land in
      green belts. This approach applies to large-scale developments irrespective of
      whether they are appropriate development or inappropriate development which
      is justified by very special circumstances. It must be stressed that this is about
      the principle of development, not landscape quality.

6.13 So if HS2 were, exceptionally, allowed, it should be contributing to the
     following objectives as set out in para 1.6 of PPG2:


                                           -9-
  CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


       To provide opportunities for access to the open countryside for the urban
       population
       To provide opportunities for outdoor sport and outdoor recreation near urban
       areas
       To retain attractive landscapes, and enhance landscapes, near to where people
       live
       To improve damaged and derelict land around towns
       To secure nature conservation interest and
       To retain land in agricultural forestry and related uses.

6.14 The Government in its HS2 proposals have manifestly failed to consider these
     objectives or set out how HS2 will contribute to them.

6.15 Looking at other large transport schemes, PPG2 specifically says that park and
     ride may be acceptable in green belt but non-green belt alternatives must be
     investigated first and there are some criteria for minimising impact. However,
     advice on Motorway Service Areas (MSA) from 1994 makes it clear that MSAs
     are inappropriate development and should only be approved in very special
     circumstances. The intention with this and other development is that other sites
     should be explored first, and such a proposal should be clearly flagged in Local
     Plan (and thus open to Examination in Public or inquiry) (PPG17, 1991).

6.16 The Chiltern Hills have been protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural
     Beauty (AONB) since 1965. The Chilterns AONB is a heavily wooded
     landscape, with the famous beechwoods the jewel in its crown. The area has
     been well wooded for hundreds of years and today is still one of the most
     wooded parts of England with over one fifth covered by woodland. Ash, cherry
     and oak is widespread as well as beech. The scenic countryside of the Chilterns
     and its proximity to London means that approximately 50 million visits a year
     take place to the Chilterns.

6.17 The statutory duty in respect of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is
     contained in Section 85 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 and is
     as follows:

       “In exercising or performing any functions in relation to, or so as to affect,
       land in an area of outstanding natural beauty, a relevant authority shall have
       regard to the purpose of conserving and enhancing the natural beauty of the
       area of outstanding natural beauty.”

6.18 The definition of “relevant authority” includes “any Minister of the Crown” as
     well as public bodies, statutory undertakers and holders of public office. It is
     difficult, to say the least, to reconcile the current proposals with the Secretary of
     State for Transport‟s duty.

   (1) We do not believe the Government has complied with this Section 85 duty.
       To do so we would have expected an explicit assessment of the proposal
       against this duty and an impact statement dealing with the AONB.




                                           - 10 -
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


   (2) In the existing consultation there is inadequate information on the impact on
       the AONB on completion and during the construction phase.

   (3) The current proposals are a token gesture regarding mitigating the impact on
       the AONB. Thus the route to Amersham is in tunnel. We accept that this
       minimises the intrusion into the AONB and green belt for that section, though
       we have concerns about the access shafts, construction and associated impacts.
       This is not the case when the route leaves Amersham when it passes through
       the area of highest landscape quality in the heart of the AONB and green belt.
       To satisfy the AONB and green belt tests and minimise the environmental
       impact, the Secretary of State‟s only option is to tunnel in the AONB and
       green belt. This would further weaken the already shaky business case.

(3) Planning Reform

6.19 The Coalition Government has a radical agenda to overhaul planning policy.
     On 21 December, the Rt Hon Greg Clark, Minister for Decentralisation,
     announced a new framework for planning policy:-

       The new framework will:
       - hand power back to local communities to decide what is right for them –
          instead of imposing excessive rigid rules from the centre
       - be more user-friendly and accessible, so that it is easier for members of the
          public to have a meaningful say in planning decisions
       - make sure that planning is used as a mechanism for delivering
          Government objectives only where it is relevant, proportionate and
          effective to do so
       - establish a presumption in favour of sustainable development.

6.20 The 51m and this response clearly establish:-

       (i)     The opposition of the local community. This will be further evidenced
               by the consultation responses.
       (ii)    The misleading nature of the consultation itself.
       (iii)   The proposal is completely outside the planning system, and if within,
               fails every business case and environmental test.
       (iv)    Is not sustainable financially or environmentally.

6.21 The statement adds “The Government will continue to maintain Green Belt
     protection, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Natural Parks, Sites of
     Special Scientific Interest and other environmental designations which protect
     the character of our country‟s landscape, stop sustainable urban sprawl and
     preserve wildlife”.

6.22 The HS2 proposal does none of these. Do Government departments discuss
     these proposals together? Is there any evidence of joined up thinking?

6.23 The Secretary of State should review the proposals in the light of this and the
     July consultation on planning reform in the Draft National Planning Policy
     Framework Consultation.


                                          - 11 -
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future




6.24 The Report opens by stating “The purpose of the Planning System is to
     contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.” This is defined by:

       planning for prosperity, which includes infrastructure
       planning for people (a social role)
       planning for places (an environmental role)

6.25 We have already established how HS2 conflicts with these principles because of
     its uncertain impact on regeneration and significant economic opportunity costs,
     has generated widespread opposition and, as is developed in this section, is
     extremely environmentally damaging.

6.26 Stripped away of decades of accretion, the planning framework is very clear on
     the key principles – and one of those is to protect the essential characteristics of
     Green Belts and “the openness and permanence”. The five principles are
     restated exactly as existing policy (para 6.7 above).

6.27 In considering exceptions, these include “local transport infrastructure which
     can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location”.

6.28 There can be no doubt that the Secretary of State for Transport‟s proposals for
     HS2 not only conflicts with the Government‟s own existing Green Belt policy
     but also its vision for how it sees that policy for the future. Because so much is
     being stripped away, Green Belt policy has even greater prominence. There is
     no way that HS2 can be described as local transport infrastructure, serving a
     local need in exceptional circumstances and contributing to the prosperity,
     community or environment of the local area of the Chilterns.

(4) Localism

6.29 The Coalition Government has a real commitment to localism – as illustrated in
     Greg Clark‟s statement above. Government makes the distinction between this
     and major infrastructure planning reforms.

6.30 The public are entitled to rely on the information in the consultation though there
     does not seem to have been any real engagement with the public, as opposed to
     stakeholder consultation, beyond Birmingham.             You will receive many
     comments on the flaws in the consultation and we wrote to put our concerns on
     10 June (copy attached – Appendix 1).

6.31 The executive decision making process focuses on what view the Secretary of
     State for Transport will take in the autumn, which will then be followed by a
     hybrid bill to promote the route (most likely the first section to Birmingham).
     The choice of this method is in itself of concern as it combines both public and
     private interests. Our advice is that it will be almost impossible to get a hearing
     of our wider strategic and economic points once the proposal reaches that stage.
     But is this really the right mechanism to hear all the arguments? Wasn‟t the
     Infrastructure Planning Commission and its successor supposed to fulfil that
     role?


                                          - 12 -
    CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future




6.32 The real concern is that the Government‟s charge of Nimbyism is an inevitable
     consequence of the decision making method they have chosen. Where was the
     national debate on the strategic issues? What is the future direction of transport
     policy? What is the most effective way of getting our economy moving and
     regenerating the north and midlands? Are there monetised costs and benefits of
     an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or listed buildings? Is this the optimum
     route? Indeed the proposal seems to be completely opposed to the current
     national infrastructure plan (see Q1 response).

6.33 Rather than the hybrid Bill process, it would have been more transparent and
     consistent with the Coalition Government‟s approach to introduce the proposal
     through the Planning Act 2008 (which contemplates a procedure for national
     infrastructure projects preceded by a national policy statement (NPS) with
     strategic environmental assessment, consultation and a vote in Parliament
     (Localism Bill), then a decision of Secretary of State to designate and then a
     planning application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission. We understand
     the Department of Transport is in any event planning a consultation on “national
     networks” NPS later this year: and to put HS2 first is, as noted above, to put the
     „cart before the horse‟.

6.34 Until we have a better process for reconciling national and local interests, the
     current system will inevitably face accusations of a lack of transparency and
     game playing, and the Coalition Government commitment to „localism‟ will
     sound very hollow to local people.5

(5) Local Environmental Impacts

6.35 The proposed scheme will have significant adverse local environmental
     impacts.

Appraisal of Sustainability

6.36 Since the proposals have not been subject to either a Strategic Environmental
    Assessment (SEA) or Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) the results do not
    adequately address the relative environmental impacts of the various options
    (including, but not limited to, the impact on biodiversity, local SSSIs, ancient
    woodlands and contextual landscape).

6.37 Whilst we accept there will be consultation on the Environmental Impact
     Assessment, it is our view that the assessment is a key factor in determining the
     best choice of route.

6.38 The validity of the consultation is therefore significantly flawed as it is not
     possible for informed comments to be submitted as the full environmental
     impacts are unknown. That stage is only reached when the hybrid bill is laid
     before Parliament. As part of the business case, and in line with Government

5
 See also Alan Goodrum and Martin Tett: Can localism survive national infrastructure projects?
Municipal Journal, 14 July 2011


                                               - 13 -
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


     thinking, the economic benefits should already have been robustly weighed up
     against the environmental damage.

6.39 The Appraisal of Sustainability is therefore not sufficient and also omits
     information as well as containing factual inaccuracies. The appraisal also fails
     adequately to address local environmental impacts. For example, there will be
     potentially irreparable damage to the Chiltern aquifer which supplies water to
     millions of homes in London and the South East.

6.40 HS2 Ltd have provided little detail on the environmental costs, benefits and
     mitigation (apart from saying there will be some and allocating unspecified
     funding). This is the only opportunity for the benefits and drawbacks to be
     understood and considered, before the principle is fixed. The lack of
     information makes any valid consultation or assessment impossible and
     completely undermines the Appraisal of Sustainability.

6.41 The Appraisal of Sustainability also demonstrates that HS2 will not be a
     sustainable project. The Government has set out aspirations of a sustainable
     transport sector in its White Paper: Creating Growth, Cutting Carbon as well as
     within the Department for Transport (DfT) 5 year Business Plan. The
     Government has long since pledged that sustainable growth is at the heart of all
     new development projects. However, the AoS provides a negative assessment
     of all environmental and social factors related to HS2. Considering the
     operational and embedded carbon impacts HS2 is hugely carbon negative and
     would lead to an increase in UK greenhouse gas emissions (51m)

6.42 The sustainability merits of the project are therefore at best dubious. Of the 66
     identified impacts associated with the construction and subsequent running of
     HS2, only 9 comply with sustainability objectives as set by the Government,
     whilst more than 50% conflict greatly with an ongoing commitment to embed
     „green‟ principles throughout all aspects of UK society. This is not a sound basis
     on which to proceed with the proposed new high speed rail line. The
     construction period and its aftermath will have a significant, detrimental and
     permanent impact on the leisure and tourism industry along the entire route, and
     specifically the green belt and AONB.

6.43 The mitigation measures are far too generic to have any practical weight at future
     decision making stages, which undermines the point of a sustainability
     appraisal. Further detailed mitigation methods or policies should be presented
     as part of the AOS to demonstrate how the project could be supportive of the
     sustainability objectives.

6.44 HS2 Ltd has assessed the proposed route as having considerable negative
     impacts. This makes it even more important to provide an understanding of why
     the proposed route is being promoted. It is apparent that the AoS has only
     assessed regional and national impacts with no real consideration of the local
     impacts. When these are added to the vast range of negative regional and
     national impacts, the AoS would further expose HS2 as being highly
     unsustainable.



                                          - 14 -
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


6.45 HS2 should not proceed to the design stages until it has been proven that there is
     a commitment to specific and detailed mitigation policy requirements, which are
     clear and transparent in addressing the negative impacts and that further work is
     undertaken to clarify the unknown issues.

Landscape, Countryside and Built Form

6.46 HS2 will cut through some of the most valuable and cherished countryside in the
     UK. We estimate that along the proposed HS2 route, up to 7000 historic /
     heritage assets will be affected between London and Birmingham.

6.47 HS2 travels through more than 25 km of Green Belt in Buckinghamshire. Within
     1 km of the HS2 route in the Chiltern District, there are:
          331 Listed Buildings
          47 Ancient Woodland Sites
          A site of Special Scientific Interest
          12 County Wildlife Sites
          5 Scheduled Ancient Monuments
          3 Historic Parks and Gardens
          8 Conservations Areas
          34 Archaeological Notification Sites
          305 Rights Of Way
          117 Protected Sites
          104 records of Protected Species
          1115 Historical Environment Records
          8 Local Wildlife sites
          17 Biological Notification sites
          359ha of previously designated ancient woodland, with an average wood
           size of 7.34ha (along Buckinghamshire stretch of HS2)

6.48 The Appraisal of Sustainability (AoS) appears only to identify impacts on
     designated heritage assets. As such 90% of all assets may be overlooked, many
     of which are within the Chiltern District. Heritage assets, features and
     landscape also significantly contribute to the character of the Chiltern Area of
     Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), protected by Planning Policy Statement 7
     (PPS7 - Sustainable Development in Rural Areas). It is clear that the project will
     be extremely damaging to the District. The proposed HS2 route will impact
     directly and indirectly on many aspects of life in the AONB, including its
     landscapes, wildlife, historic and cultural heritage, communities and local
     economy, recreation and access.

6.49 We also refer the Secretary of State to the submission of the Chilterns
     Conservation Board and its assessment of the impact on the AONB:

      149 mature trees (outside woodland areas) will be destroyed within the
       construction corridor of HS2 through the Chilterns, and many smaller ones.
      24 areas of woodland will be affected by HS2, including 9 ancient woodland
       sites. The latter are sites which have been continuously wooded for at least


                                          - 15 -
  CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


       400 years. Once lost they can never be replaced and their loss can not be
       mitigated by planting new trees.
      The total area of woodland destroyed will be around 17.75ha.
      13,700m of hedgerow will be destroyed.

6.50 Historic, environment, community and heritage assets will be impacted by the
     route from:
        Physical destruction or harm during construction
        Harmful noise and visual intrusion on the setting of assets
        Loss of historic character by severing landscape patterns and linear
           features
        Indirect harm from vibration and alteration of water table

6.51 There is insufficient information included within the AoS to determine properly
     the impacts. Although the revisions to the fine detail (changes such as the
     addition of a green bridge) of the route illustrate HS2 is at least cogniscent of the
     issues, in the Chiltern District alone the proposed route will still be detrimental
     to, for example:

       Grims Ditch, The Lee: HS2 destroys 90m of Grims Ditch, a scheduled
       prehistoric boundary feature.

       East of Great Missenden: HS2 passes in a cutting through the Chilterns
       AONB, severing field patterns, ancient woodland, lanes and harming the
       setting of monuments and listed buildings. At Bury Farm, for instance, the line
       will pass at surface level within 300 metres of a major Grade II listed farm
       group on a moated site, and continue in only a shallow cutting close to two
       further listed farmsteads and the care home at Grade II listed Woodlands
       Park.” (as well as slicing through Grim‟s Ditch).

       Hyde End: HS2 cuts through Grade II listed Hyde Farm and barns - barns
       destroyed by cutting and farmhouse left within 25m of cutting edge. It is
       highly likely that the Grade II listed farmhouse, which contains early 16th
       century timber framing, will cease to be viable as a dwelling so close to the
       line, with major threat to its future preservation.

       Shardeloes Park: The line will cut across and appear to truncate the Grade
       II* historic landscape extended by Repton, with major detriment to views from
       the Grade I mansion out across the ornamental lake, and to the setting of the
       walled kitchen garden. The amended plans for a narrow land bridge at the
       centre of the park would be woefully inadequate to counteract this damage.

       Old Amersham: Cutting and tunnel entrance 300m north of town affects the
       setting of conservation area. Historic buildings with often limited foundations
       will be subject to vibration while the noise impact in this locality will be
       substantial.

       St John the Baptist, Little Missenden: Its history spans almost two
       thousand years with remains of local Roman structures having been recycled


                                           - 16 -
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


         by the Saxons. Roman bricks, Norman arches, Saxon windows, Crusader
         Crosses, Medieval floor tiles and 800 year old wall paintings are evident.

6.52 The AoS states it will maintain Rights of Way „in the long term where feasible‟.
     It must be noted that even if access is maintained, the ability to enjoy a tranquil
     walk through open countryside will be lost. A major underestimate of the
     number of affected footpaths (based on assessments) means the business case
     does not reflect the true costs. Assessments show major disruption to a number
     of existing routes (road, rail, cyclist and pedestrian; man-made and natural)
     intercepted by HS2. Not all will be suitable for mitigation. Where routes can be
     diverted around, over, under or moved without permanent closure, the right
     solution would need to be sensitive to the environment and appropriate to the
     site. Such solutions are costly and are not shown in the business case. When the
     route emerges from the tunnel (close to Old Amersham, a conservation area with
     listed buildings and not far from a primary school) it cuts through the Chilterns
     AONB, on a range of tunnels, cuttings, viaducts and embankments.

6.53 Claims by the Secretary of State that the A413 is a major transport corridor
     shows the lack of local research and investigation undertaken and a lack of
     understanding of the impact. Integrating a high speed railway into any
     landscape can mean looking well beyond the rail corridor depending on
     visibility, landscape sensitivity and key receptors, to create the right landscape.

6.54 HS2 Ltd show road and rail crossings but fail to give details about vertical
     realignments that will impact on the landscape and setting. The environmental
     impacts should be correctly assessed before attempting to determine the
     appropriate route or mitigation. With a high quality environment such as the
     Chilterns the mitigation so far proposed appears wholly inadequate.

6.55 HS2 will have a major and devastating effect on the landscape. A landscape
     character assessment has been carried out across the three southern districts
     within Buckinghamshire (Buckinghamshire County Council). As part of this
     study the consultants were asked to undertake sensitivity testing of the proposed
     HS2 route and its impact on the landscape. Within Chiltern the route cuts
     through 4 distinct landscape character areas. In an early draft of the assessment,
     the consultants have concluded that although part of the route is in a tunnel the
     development of the HS2 route would have a detrimental impact on the character
     of the landscape. With the exception of the Chalfont St Peter area where the
     HS2 route is totally in a tunnel, each of the other landscape areas crossed by the
     route are ranked between moderate and high in terms of their sensitivity to the
     proposed rail route. It should also be noted that the consultants are to do
     additional work on the tunnel air shafts which may alter their assessment of the
     tunnelled sections.

Carbon

6.56 HS2 Ltd claim that the multi billion pound HS2 will be broadly carbon neutral.
     A review of the appraisal of the HS2 Greenhouse Gas Report shows that the
     assumptions of HS2 Ltd are wildly inaccurate and misleading. Due to the lack
     of data available, it is not possible to critically appraise the cost of carbon.


                                          - 17 -
    CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


         Nevertheless, HS2 Ltd has attributed the cost of carbon at somewhere between
         +£1.37billion and -£4.6billion (Appraisal of sustainability – Appendix 2). It is
         however the latter figure that is much more probable, especially if the
         aspirations of the aviation industry are realised, and freed domestic flight slots
         are switched to long haul flights (Scenario B - table 7). Although the predicted
         carbon cost will be dependant upon exactly where in the world the additional
         international flights fly to, this area of carbon valuation has not received
         adequate consideration and in terms of the overall potential carbon costs of HS2
         would be immense.

6.57 HS2 will also run on electricity, a high proportion of which still come from fossil
     fuelled powered power stations. Therefore during the operational stage it will
     only be as carbon neutral as the energy source. This also contributes to the
     flawed argument.

Construction

6.58 The impacts from the construction will be enormous. Significant dust, additional
     vehicle movements, temporary road diversions and closures and night time
     working are inevitable and will be extensive. It is not appropriate to postpone
     consideration of these impacts (potentially lasting years) until after the Bill.

6.59 The HS2 proposal will generate unprecedented quantities of spoil – estimates are
     8.7 million cubic metres of solid material net for phase 1. HS2‟s official
     estimates were 680,000 cubic metres though this has been amended two weeks
     before the consultation closedown. Even allowing for use within the scheme,
     6.44 million cubic metres will be created. Some 74% is in the Chilterns because
     of tunnelling and deep cuttings.

                          -   Amersham Tunnel (9.6km), 1.42 million cubic metres
                          -   Little Missenden Tunnel (1.26km), 0.19 million cubic metres
                          -   Chiltern Deep Cuttings (9.2km) 4.83 million cubic metres 6

6.60 The consultation does not deal adequately with:-

           (i)     The calculations themselves.
           (ii)    The method of disposal – land fill.
           (iii)   The location of the disposal.
           (iv)    Transport
           (v)     The energy/carbon impact of the construction.
           (vi)    Whether the assumed costs are realistic.

6.61 The HS2 project represents one of the largest peace time projects ever
     undertaken in the UK. It will require significant labour and support during
     construction. No evidence is provided in the consultation on the impact of large
     construction compounds and populations.



6
    Dr Marilyn Fletcher: SSE PhD, HS2 Spoil in the Chiltern Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty


                                                 - 18 -
  CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


Biodiversity

6.62 No comprehensive ecological surveys have been undertaken to assess the impact
     on habitats and animal and plant species. Even without the essential detailed
     assessment, it is already known that HS2 threatens 160 wildlife sites, 21 ancient
     woods, 4 Wildlife Trust reserves and 10 Sites of Special Scientific Interest along
     its proposed path.

6.63 The Government‟s Lawton Report, (2010), proposes a principle of biodiversity
     offsetting, recognising and using habitat value and assignment costs to identify
     the scale of compensation. The report also states that if compensation and /or
     mitigation is undeliverable within the existing footprint, compensatory offsetting
     should be provided on a 1:1 ratio at minimum. Land purchase, habitat
     establishment and land management (in perpetuity) are not factored into HS2
     Ltd's costs. The 2010 Report also stressed the need for wildlife corridors,
     demonstrating that to rebuild ecological networks, better connections between
     adjoining sites via physical corridors or stepping stones was needed. As a result
     the Government announced plans to protect wildlife with an aim of halving the
     loss of habitats. It appears, however, that the HS2 proposals contradict such
     good intentions. Severing hundreds of wildlife corridors will have serious
     consequences for many species; not assessed in the AoS.

6.64 The AoS provides too little information about biodiversity and habitat impacts,
     and does not properly consider protected species. It fails to determine how
     cumulative impacts may be mitigated and key species protected. We believe
     this is a major omission.

6.65 HS2 will affect important species along the route; many internationally,
     nationally and locally protected species have been identified. Such effects must
     be fully investigated and reported in the EIA. By taking such a broad brush
     approach and not considering local impacts now, nationally and internationally
     important species and habitats are effectively ignored.

6.66 Destruction of habitat will threaten rare species and result in significant tree loss.
     It will cut through 23km of high grade farmland. It will also have a huge visual
     impact – the track is 75m wide including a 25m non-vegetation zone on each
     side. There will also be enormous viaducts over flood plains.

Green Spaces

6.67 Buckinghamshire County Council environment team have undertaken an audit of
     all green spaces affected by the HS2 route. They have surveyed a 1km corridor
     along the route and also audited green spaces directly crossed by the route. In
     the case of Chiltern the route directly affects the equivalent of 9 football pitches
     of natural and semi-natural7 green spaces.

Water
        7
   1)     Natural and semi natural Greenspace – (with public access) woodland and scrub, nature
        reserves, grassland, wetlands, open access land, communal greenspaces, village greens



                                               - 19 -
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future




6.68 The AoS admits that HS2 will affect groundwater, thus failing to meet DfT
     sustainability objectives. The Chiltern area is one of complex hydrology typical
     of chalk geology. Chalk streams have a tendency to appear and disappear in an
     unpredictable fashion with dry valleys suddenly becoming filled with springs
     and streams. The River Misbourne is well named because of this characteristic.
     The impact of the complex pattern of tunnels and cuttings has not been
     adequately considered. In addition, some of the rare chalk streams in the
     Chilterns have sections which only flow in winter.

6.69 Damage to groundwater could affect water supplies that cannot be solved with
     expensive solutions. HS2 will pass in tunnel under the River Misbourne at two
     points: Bury End and Misbourne Farm. At both points, the twin tunnels would
     be less than 30m underground, passing through the saturated zone of rock
     beneath the river. Construction within these sensitive areas may lead to
     increased loss of water from the river and/or a change in groundwater flow in
     the saturated zone affecting flows further downstream. The AoS recognises this
     risk but fails to prove that they can be managed.

6.70 Construction of the route is likely to involve closure of some groundwater supply
     sources (Amersham and Chalfont St. Giles included) by water companies, who
     will need to compensate for supply loss by bringing in water from outside the
     affected area. If HS2 impacts public supplies, then any loss would need to be
     met from long distance imports of water, most likely from supplies within the
     Chess and Colne catchments. Both river catchments are listed as 'over-
     abstracted' by the Environment Agency and therefore this will increase the stress
     on these rivers and their associated wildlife, the increased costs and carbon
     associated with pumping longer distances and additional pressure on
     groundwater supplies overall. This impact also does not appear to have been
     considered in relation to the planned housing growth in the South East which
     will continue to put strain on supplies.

Operational Noise

6.71 One of the drivers for sustainable development is creating sustainable
      communities. This is acknowledged within the AoS (Main report Volume 1
      6.3.1). An important factor when appraising community sustainability is the
      extent to which the noise and vibration will be created.

6.72 According to Table 6 of the AoS Volume 1, the likely noise impact of HS2 is
     highly unsupportive of the noise objective and unsupportive of the vibration
     objective. The AoS makes a number of fundamental omissions, namely that of
     the impact from ground-borne noise and vibration from trains running in tunnels
     (Appendix 5 9.1.1) and along the proposed alignment (Appendix 5 9.3.5); night-
     time train noise impacts upon dwellings and noise impacts upon non-residential
     dwellings.

6.73 It also fails to adequately take account of the impact from other noise and
     vibration sources.    The assumptions and prediction presented within the



                                          - 20 -
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


     submission are also questionable. These issues are expanded upon in Appendix
     2.

AOS Conclusions

6.74 It is difficult to understand how an infrastructure project of this significance and
      size with so many detrimental effects has been subject to so little environmental
      impact assessment or scrutiny.

6.75 Due to the inadequacy of the AoS, it is also impossible for any person to make
     an informed response. This again calls into question the legitimacy of the whole
     consultation process.

6.76 Because the true environmental impacts (and costs associated with mitigating,
     offsetting etc) are not known, this also results in distortion to the overall
     economic case

6.77 Technically, the consultation documents show HS2 does not meet the DfT‟s
     sustainability objectives and there is serious concern that the Government is
     applying double standards; requiring less scrutiny for its own scheme compared
     to those promoted elsewhere. Other infrastructure projects would be expected to
     look at all impacts at the earliest stage and to have provided a more robust and
     defensible business case.

6.78 Since this is the only opportunity for the benefits, drawbacks and mitigation
     measures/principles to be understood and considered before the principle of HS2
     is fixed, the lack of relevant information makes any consultation or assessment
     impossible and worthless. The choice of the decision-making process, the
     hybrid bill, as already commented upon, is manifestly unfair.

6.79 The AoS has only assessed regional and national impacts and not local impacts.
     When local impacts are added to the vast range of negative regional and national
     impacts, the AoS would further portray HS2 as being highly unsustainable. The
     assessment of source noise, mitigation and impacts has inadequately described
     the true impact of this proposal on the affected communities and therefore may
     have significantly underestimated their true monetary cost.

6.80 HS2 will create major environmental damage that cannot be mitigated. Arguing
     the project is in the „national interest‟ cannot justify ignorance or non-
     quantification of that damage. As presented, HS2 is an unsustainable and
     indefensible infrastructure project that admits huge environmental risks, but fails
     to show these can be mitigated, even at a strategic level, with no costs included
     in the business case.

Q7. This question is about blight and compensation (Annex A of the main
consultation document): Do you agree with the options set out to assist those whose
properties lose a significant amount of value as a result of any new high speed line?

7.1 This Council is extremely concerned about the blighting effects of the proposal –
    blight that will last a further 14 years at least. The terms of this question are


                                          - 21 -
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


   unclear – particularly whether there are other options to be considered. Because
   our area is affected, we would certainly wish to be consulted on any future
   schemes or refinements.

7.2 We support the 51m position that the starting point for deciding on what
    discretionary scheme to adopt, and its terms, must be the principles upon which
    such scheme is based. In 51m‟s view those principles should be:

           a. That any scheme is based on the principle of fairness to all those who
              are affected regardless of the business/investment sector of the
              claimant, rateable value of the property or if the owner is not in
              occupation.
           b. That such principles must be applied to both residential and business
              premises and to owners of agricultural land.
           c. A fundamental feature of any scheme is that those affected should not
              have to wait for compensation/purchase for a prolonged period. This is
              particularly the case given the very extensive period of blight that
              arises with HS2;
           d. Any scheme should address the real effects of blight and not be
              limited by artificial distance (or noise) criteria.
           e. Any scheme should aim to ensure that so far as possible the property
              market continues to operate normally in the affected areas. This should
              cover not merely people who wish to move property, but also those
              who wish to re-mortgage their property.
           f. Any scheme should have the support of relevant financial institutions,
              and they should make commitments that they would honour the
              principles of such a scheme.
           g. The effect of wider blight on communities.

7.3 We are not in a position to make detailed or final comments on the three options
    proposed, given the lack of information provided in Annex A and the large
    number of questions that arise in relation to the operation of any of the schemes
    proposed. Therefore the comments that are made below should be viewed as being
    provisional, until full information is provided.

7.4 We offer the following additional comments based on views expressed by our
    local residents.

7.5 Three scheme options are offered for consultation, together with five criteria for
    determining the proposed approach to compensation. The DfT say one of the
    options will be developed further:

        Hardship based scheme (like EHS and HS1 had): that helps just those
         who must sell
        Property bond (like BAA and Central Railway had): focusing on those
         who wish to sell
        Compensation bond (similar to the statutory scheme): for those that stay
         until it is built.




                                          - 22 -
 CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


7.6 These types of schemes were all reviewed during the 2010 public consultation on
    the EHS by HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA). Their view and recommendations
    were widely distributed and commended: 83% of respondents (including two
    thirds of councils and third party organisations) supported their proposed
    alternative scheme (based on a Property Bond approach).

7.7 Despite widespread recognition of the problems that blight causes, how it
   manifests itself and the nature of the injustice, there are few examples of
   successful schemes and none to date in the public sector. Key ingredients to
   success are that the scheme must be perceived as fair (increasingly viewed by the
   public on the model the „polluter pays‟) and able to generate sufficient confidence
   for the property market to function normally. A fair scheme also benefits the
   promoter through less local hostility to the project that otherwise is intense.

7.8 The HS2AA review finds that experience and the specific circumstances of HS2 –
    the time horizons involved during which most people will move or seek to
    remortgage, the potential impacts on properties, and the resistance to settling the
    route now and as it extends north – suggest that:

        A Hardship scheme is likely to be unsustainable (morally and potentially in
         law) as most individuals who will suffer losses will never qualify for
         compensation. It also does not meet Government commitments that the
         next scheme would represent an improvement.

        A Property bond is likely to be the best option to address blight as it
         provides a mechanism to enable the property market to continue
         functioning at or near to unblighted prices. It does this by providing a
         safety net (or purchase arrangements) that financial bodies can support.
         This option is more expensive to the promoter, can include those who stay,
         and involves Government in property purchase (that they now wish to
         avoid). Despite this they have previously commended the approach „as
         coming closer than any other to addressing blight concerns‟ and have
         approved such schemes for the private sector.

        A Compensation bond is unlikely to provide the necessary confidence to the
         property market to prevent prices and activity from still being depressed, as
         typically current owners will still have to accept blighted prices to achieve
         sales, construction impacts are ignored, and there is no role for financial
         bodies to help. It hence fails the test of fairness. It relies on the promise of
         compensation to the eventual owner (in 2027/2033) to persuade prospective
         purchasers to still pay at or near unblighted prices. It is the DfT‟s preferred
         option as it avoids both property purchase and any payments until project
         completion (2027 at earliest). It is similar to the existing statutory
         arrangements and a previous draft scheme developed (but not implemented)
         following the last review of blight issues by Government (in 1997 after
         HS1).

7.9 The five criteria proposed by DfT cannot be completely achieved for selecting any
    scheme option. Priority must be given to those criteria that enable a fair
    compensation scheme to be developed to protect people from suffering losses, and


                                          - 23 -
    CHILTERN DISTRICT COUNCIL – Response to High Speed Rail: „Investing‟ in Britain‟s Future


      hence what is needed to achieve that. Revisions to the DfT criteria are suggested,
      to:

            Make explicit reference to the support of mortgage lenders, so that property
             markets can function normally – with valuations at/near unblighted prices
             for lending and remortgaging.
            That Government „avoiding property purchase‟ is essentially an
             administrative issue that can be managed. Only one of the three options
             avoids all property purchase.
            Remove the restriction to those who suffer „significant‟ loss, as this is
             likely to be felt „unfair‟ by those affected, given the circumstances and past
             interpretations (greater than 15% loss).
            To explicitly include those who move home (as well as those who stay).

7.10 Only the Property Bond approach would have the support of the Council of
     Mortgage Lenders (CML) and the British Banking Association (BBA) – the
     other options would not give lenders the assurances they require.

7.11 This approach has been more fully developed in a further paper by Wharf
     Weston which is commended to Department for Transport.8




8
    Wharf Weston: Compensation for Property Blight from HS2, 24 June (updated 23 July 2011)


                                                - 24 -

				
DOCUMENT INFO