On the 28 April, MPs passed the HS2 Bill with 452 for and 41 against. This means the principle of high speed rail 2 has been voted on and agreed, with the Select Committee established on 29 April to hear grievances and potentially make changes that fall within the principle of the bill.
See the National Trust’s briefing to MPs prior to the reading here.
On an encouraging note, Secretary of State of Transport, Patrick McLoughlin mentioned:
‘There may be more that we can do. We will continue to talk to people in the Hawkslade part of Aylesbury, for example, and the National Trust about its idea for a land bridge near Hartwell house.’
The grade I listed building Hartwell House, is owned by the Ernest Cook Trust and has been leased to the National Trust since 2008. It now runs as a hotel run by Historic House Hotels Ltd.
The HS2 route passes in close proximity to the house and will cut into the corner of the estate. In the National Trust’s briefing to MP’s, it plans for a ‘land bridge’- which will protect Hartwell and nearby Aylesbury- will consist of building embankments either side of the track and then simply placing a lid on top of it. These measures would then mitigate the visual and noise impacts from HS2.
But despite these encouraging words, Patrick McLoughlin also confusingly stated that with current plans of mitigation ‘No grade I listed building is affected’.
Regarding the HS2 route through Buckinghamshire’s Chilterns Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB), Patrick McLoughlin worryingly expressed that ‘3.3 km will be on the surface’. He did not mention any support of a proposed extended tunnel to protect this area which the National Trust has also supported in its briefing.
MP for Aylesbury and Europe Minister, David Lidington, told the Bucks Herald yesterday ‘I will resign at a later stage of the bill if they don’t get mitigation, and that for me includes a Chilterns tunnel’.
Six members of the Select Committee have been appointed for the next stage of the Bill to hear petitions from those affected by it:
- Henry Bellingham (Con)
- Sir Peter Bottomley (Con)
- Robert Syms (Con)
- Ian Mearns (Lab)
- Yasmin Qureshi (Lab)
- Mike Thornton (LibDem)
There was also an instruction to the Committee to ensure that any environmental information in petitions that related to the principle of the Bill and therefore could not be heard was reported to the House on Third Reading when the principle of the Bill was reconsidered.
All petitions will be summarised by an independent assessor in the same way as they have been for the environmental statement consultation. If a petition includes environmental information that does not touch on the principle of the Bill, it is wholly within the scope of the Committee to consider that.
None of the amendments tabled for the Select Committee were pressed to a division.
The motions relating to the establishment and work of the Committee were agreed to.
The carry-over motion for the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill was also agreed to.
Samuel Weaver is a Media and Communications intern at the National Trust.
He is a recent History graduate from the University of the West of England. When not selling sausages in a deli, he usually occupies himself by researching and blogging on our nation’s more overlooked heritage. Follow him on twitter @weaversamuel2