PRE­PAR­ING A BAT­TLE PLAN FOR HS2

Over the next few months, peo­ple from around Bucks will be given the chance to talk to a gov­ern­ment com­mit­tee about the im­pact of HS2. JACK ABELL spoke to cam­paign­ers to find out how prepa­ra­tions are go­ing in the bat­tle to mit­i­gate against the ef­fects of

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE -

ACROSS the coun­try, peo­ple who are af­fected by HS2 are be­ing given a unique op­por­tu­nity. Last year, the gov­ern­ment an­nounced the HS2 hy­brid bill. If suc­cess­fully passed, the bill gives per­mis­sion for work on the first phase of the line, be­tween London and Birm­ing­ham, to go ahead.

This would mean the project plough­ing through parts of South Bucks and the Chilterns, di­rectly through the area of nat­u­ral beauty as it makes its way to the Mid­lands.

How­ever, all hope is not lost.

A se­lect com­mit­tee made up of MPs from dif­fer­ent par­ties is in the process of scru­ti­n­is­ing the bill.

Part of this in­volves vis­it­ing ar­eas along the line to see for them­selves what is likely to hap­pen if the line is built, and then lis­ten­ing first-hand to pe­ti­tion­ers from coun­cils, ac­tion groups and in­di­vid­u­als, who will be given the chance to ex­plain their griev­ances.

Although the process is not about chal­leng­ing the prin­ci­ple of HS2 or its costs, it is de­signed to en­sure that any changes which the com­mit­tee deems are nec­es­sary are made be­fore it is fi­nally passed and work be­gins to take place.

The se­lect com­mit­tee is

I want peo­ple to be trained up and ready, so that what they are say­ing will have the max­i­mum

ef­fect”

mak­ing its way along the line, mov­ing broadly from north to south, and cam­paign­ers are hop­ing that it will get to Buck­ing­hamshire dur­ing the early part of next year.

They will be given four weeks’ no­tice ahead of their meet­ing with the com­mit­tee and will then go along to West­min­ster.

Be­cause of this, peo­ple from around Bucks have been work­ing hard this year to en­sure that their pe­ti­tions are ef­fec­tive, and that they are fully pre­pared to present to the se­lect com­mit­tee when they are given the chance to do so.

Yes­ter­day (Wed­nes­day), a sum­mit or­gan­ised by Bucks County Coun­cil as well as dis­trict coun­cils was due to be held in Ayles­bury, at­tended by more than 100 peo­ple and or­gan­i­sa­tions, which fo­cused on the com­mit­tee.

Peo­ple were told about the process which they will go through, and what to ex­pect when they even­tu­ally talk to se­lect com­mit­tee mem­bers.

Frank Par­tridge, chair­man of Den­ham Against HS2, is one of those who is set to go along to West­min­ster when the op­por­tu­nity arises, to make the case for his part of South Bucks.

He said: “A lot of the work has al­ready been done, but we will be pre­par­ing for it over the com­ing months.

“We are plan­ning to give peo­ple as much ad­vice and train­ing as pos­si­ble for when they go to the se­lect com­mit­tee.

“I want peo­ple to be trained up and ready, and as pre­pared as they can be so that what they are say­ing will have the max­i­mum ef­fect.

“It’s a very im­por­tant time.

“It’s a chance for us to spell out ex­actly how we are go­ing to be af­fected.”

Mr Par­tridge says that his ac­tion group’s main points of ar­gu­ment to the com­mit­tee will in­clude the prospect of tun­nelling un­der the Colne Val­ley, sound is­sues likely to be cre­ated by the project, the amount of com­pen­sa­tion which peo­ple should re­ceive, and a re­stric­tion on work­ing times when it is be­ing built.

“We will be tak­ing ex­perts along as well,” he says.

“We want to show that our con­cerns have real weight be­hind them and to show that much more mit­i­ga­tion is needed.”

Mr Par­tridge says that he is hope­ful that his group will be given the chance to present to the se­lect com­mit­tee early next year.

In Amer­sham, mean­while, a sim­i­lar amount of prepa­ra­tion is in place.

Amer­sham Ac­tion Group mem­ber Chris Wilson has been in the process of show­ing a bar­ris­ter around the area in or­der to en­sure that his group’s case is pre­sented as ef­fec­tively as pos­si­ble when the chance ar­rives.

He says: “It’s still some way off. Den­ham and the Colne Val­ley will prob­a­bly be be­fore us, but it means that we need to be ready, and that is what we’ve been work­ing for.

“It is about mak­ing sure that all our bases are cov­ered. In Amer­sham there are lots of dif­fer­ent peo­ple and groups, so be­tween us we need to make sure that we are cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing to show how badly this area is be­ing af­fected.

“It re­ally is a very im­por­tant time, so ev­ery­one who is go­ing along needs to be ready, and to make sure that they know what to ex­pect when the time comes.”

For a full re­port of yes­ter­day’s sum­mit, see get­bucks.co.uk and also next week’s pa­per.

SCRU­TINY: The HS2 line plan has caused protests across the area since it was first pro­posed

BE PRE­PARED: Chair­man of Den­ham Against HS2, Frank Par­tridge (left) and (above) Amer­sham Ac­tion Group’s Chris Wilson

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