Dear Parish Clerks
I’d be grateful if you could make your councillors aware of the letter below Sent to Chris Grayling transport secretary and HS2 chief today.
Unacceptable vegetation clearances . Scrap the project!
If they are minded to share it, endorse it then they are very welcome but thought they should be aware.
Dear Mr Grayling and Mr Thurston,
In the comingweeks 250 acres of countryside between Calvert and Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire, is due to be cleared of all hedgerows, trees and woodlands.
The residents in the area are extremely upset, not because land needs to be cleared for HS2 – as we have all had plenty of time to come to terms with that – but the manner in which it is being done.
The land owners have not been given adequate notice – they were told on the 5th February; no details plans for the works have be shown to residents or submitted to the local planning authority or indeed (we believe) such plans have not even been completed by HS2. Perhaps most worryingly, this destructive act is also to be carried out in bird nesting season, which is the most environmentally damaging time to do such work and would never be sanctioned in normal circumstances.
At the very least the management of this vegetation clearance goes against everything stated in HS2’s Community Engagement Plan.
Mr Thurston – HS2 has fallen far short of its own goals. In your own words (from the Community Engagement Plan);
“…we have to be an exemplar project in our approach to engagement with communities. For me this means HS2 and our suppliers being actively involved with the community to build mutually beneficial, long term relationships. By doing so we will better understand local concerns and how we can work together to minimise disruption to peoples’ lives”.
HS2 has failed residents in North Buckinghamshire at the very first significant test.
The poor handling of this situation has irritated the natural anxiety in the community and swift action needs to be taken to reassure us that HS2 can work with the community to deliver this project successfully.
It is also the case that recent press has been overwhelmingly negative about HS2. This leaves residents unsure that the huge cost that they are being asked to bear will have any benefit to the nation – especially the first phase of the line between London and Birmingham.
There has been no government voice making the case for HS2 at all and no reassurance from any government quarter.
We, three local County Councillors, therefore invite you to come to our community to reassure us; correct the record if needs be and, if relevant, make amends.
Mr Thurston – again in your own words.
“…we can work together to minimise disruption to peoples’ lives, and where we make mistakes, learning from these will help us to constantly improve our engagement approach. One of our guiding principles is to be a good neighbour and respect the communities we are working with and the environment in which they live…”
There are two HS2 held Community Engagement events in the coming days.
Calvert– 27th February 4-8pm
Steeple Claydon – 7th March 4-8pm (Although I note this one might be too late.)
Please can you attend one of either of these meetings and inform us of your plans. I think that residents would be grateful if you could answer the following questions.
Mr Thurston – If the design of the line and the IMD is not yet completed – and no plans have been submitted to the AVDC planning department – why is it so urgent to cause this environmental destruction during bird nesting season. Also without showing detailed plans, how can you reassure the land-owners and residents that parts of this site are not being cleared needlessly.
Rt Hon Chris Grayling – Please can you make the case for the first phase for HS2 between London and Birmingham and reassure us that you have confidence in HS2, the budget and the schedule.
The depth of anxiety, upset and confusion is deep and exactly what the HS2 Community Engagement Plan and its officers have been trying to avoid. However, somewhere in the system there has been a massive failing, and we worry that it is a failing that indicates further chaos, delays and confusion within HS2 and the Department of Transport.
For the past two years we have all co-operatively engaged with the HS2 and Eiffage Kier community engagement officers, who have always impressed us in very difficult circumstances, however we have lost faith in both HS2 ltd and the planning of the works locally. We are also concerned that our Government is not fully engaged, or even prepared to make a public and positive case for HS2.
We hope that you will see this as a positive opportunity to engage with us and reassure us that we – and the HS2 project – are in good hands.
Cllr John Chilver – BCC Cabinet Member for Resources and AVDC District Councillor
Cllr Angela Macpherson – Leader of the Council (AVDC) and Buckinghamshire County Councillor
Cllr Charlie Clare – Buckinghamshire County Councillor Kind regards Angela
LEADER AYLESBURY VALE DISTRICT COUNCIL
DISTRICT COUNCILLOR MARSH GIBBON WARD
COUNTY COUNCILLOR GRENDON UNDERWOOD DIVISION