On the 26th July a judge agreed that the five cases against HS2 will all be heard and has set the date for the hearings. He has agreed that all five claims will be heard together but organised separately. The Transport Secretary Justine Greening will be required to explain the errors that occurred during the consultation by HS2.
The claims will be heard in December this year and it is very pleasing that the Judge has allowed the five claims to proceed. We congratulate all those parties who brought the claims to court. Three of the four parties bringing cases (HS2AA, 51M, and Heathrow Hub) made clear to the court during the hearing the news last week that their 2011 consultation responses had been omitted could now affect their grounds for challenge. The Secretary of State has been required to provide a full explanation for what happened. The judge agreed their cases could then be amended if required.
Aylesbury Constituency Conservatives will continue to fight this proposal along with our colleagues locally together with Aylesbury Vale District Council and Bucks County who have been opposed to this proposal from the beginning.
As you are likely to be aware, the Transport Select Committee has now published its findings into High Speed Rail which can be viewed at the link below. However, should you wish to purchase a hard copy please telephone The Stationery Office on 08457 023474.
The Report is a real ‘curate’s egg’. It concludes that “a high speed rail network” should be developed “as part of a national transport strategy” and that HS2 “could form part of this network”. At the same time, the Committee concludes that much more detail is needed on the financial case for HS2, argues that the emphasis on a very high-speed (250mph) line “has prematurely ruled out other route options”, expresses disappointment that the scheme is based on a economic case “that is not universally accepted”, rejects the claim that HS2 would reduce carbon emissions and that there should be “an urgent strategic appraisal of phase II (the Y network north of Birmingham) before a final decision on phase I is taken.”
In my experience, it is common for Select Committee reports to contain a lot of “on the one hand...on the other” language, in order to get the unanimous support of Committee members. In this case, the Committee was divided. The formal minutes (pp96-102) show that several more critical conclusions on HS2 were defeated by only five votes to four.
Should you wish to raise any issues with the Select Committee after reading their report I would recommend contacting them direct by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can write to the committee at the address below.
House of Commons
We must now wait for both the Government’s response to the Select Committee’s report and for the announcement on if it has decided to proceed with HS2 following the public consultation. I expect both to be announced in the next few weeks. In the meantime, I have enclosed a copy of the Transport Select Committee’s conclusions and recommendations for your reference but I would recommend reading these in conjunction with the full report.
Member of Parliament for Aylesbury
High Speed Rail Consultation has now closed.
You can see David Lidington's response to the consultation below.
High Speed Rail Consultation
The Coalition government has officially launched the consultation process in respect of HS2. Aylesbury Conservative Constituency Association remains strongly opposed to the proposal. We believe the business case is severely flawed and at a time when the Coalition is trying to reduce the record deficit left by Labour the cost of such a project cannot be justified when it will cost every Parliamentary Constituency in the region of £51 million.
Any High Speed Rail proposal must be justified on the basis of National Interest and we have not seen persuasive evidence that it meets this test.
Aylesbury Conservative Constituency Association will continue to fight these plans on behalf of local people and believes this is best achieved from within the party by making the strongest possible representations to the key decision makers within the Coalition Government.
To respond online to the consultation please visit http://highspeedrail.dft.gov.uk or by post at the following address or by post at the following address: Freepost RSLX-UCGZ-UKSS, High Speed Rail Consultation, PO Box 59528, London, SE21 9AX. The consultation web-site has links to all the consultation documents. On the web-site there is also an option to ‘Order Hard Copies’ of the relevant documents http://shop.dft.gov.uk/highspeedrail. In addition, constituents can call 0300 321 1010 to request hard copies.