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High Speed 2 (HS2)

2. News

E-update

You can find the most up to date information on the scheme in the the latest E-update produced by the HS2 Project Team.

For past E-updates, please visit our archive.  

Recent News

East West Rail/HS2 integration report

The County Council have now been supplied with the East West Rail/HS2 integration report. This can be found below with an accompanying letter setting out parts that are redacted from the report. It is important to understand that this is the first of a series of reports looking at the integration of the scheme and does not set out in detail all of the issues. It does though provide clear guidance as to the principles the two schemes will be working on moving forward.

House of Lords Petitioning 

Buckinghamshire County Council appearances at the HS2 Select Committee

Response to Select Committee announcement about Chiltern tunnelling

Statement from Chiltern District Council, Buckinghamshire County Council and the Chilterns Conservation Board in response to the HS2 Select Committee’s announcement about Chilterns tunnelling

Isobel Darby, Leader of Chiltern District Council said: “Whilst we are disappointed that our own option, the Chilterns Long Tunnel, has not received the support of the Select Committee, we appreciate that some of this outstanding area will be getting protection through an alternative tunnel option.

“We stand by our evidence that the equally valuable AONB to the North requires a similar measure of safeguarding and will continue to do everything we can to ensure the whole of the Chilterns AONB receives the statutory protection it rightly deserves.”

Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council said "It is very hard to believe this decision. The Chilterns is a nationally designated AONB and a 'lung for London'. The case was overwhelming for a full tunnel. Nevertheless, I welcome the decision to at least instruct HS2 to look at extending the current tunnel length northwards and the green tunnel at Wendover southwards and hope that some more of the precious AONB will be spared. Buckinghamshire County Council, along with our partners, will continue to lobby for the maximum mitigation possible for all affected."

Kath Daly, Acting Chief Officer for the Chilterns Conservation Board, said:

"This is a devastating decision which completely disregards the strong evidence put forward of the benefits of a long tunnel for the Chilterns and for the nation.  This regrettable decision to reject a tunnel under the whole of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty fails to recognise the true value of the AONB – an irreplaceable resource for the nation. It is particularly disappointing that the HS2 Select Committee took barely an hour to produce its recommendations."

"We will be pressing for the maximum alternative mitigation."

Decisions on the Colne Valley 

On the 15 July 2015, the Chairman of the Select Committee, Robert Syms MP, announced a number of Select Committee decisions concerning the Colne Valley. The Committee has decided that the arguments for a tunnel under the Colne Valley were not convincing and have stated that they do not want further studies to be carried out, as they doubt these would mean a cost significantly less than £200 million. 

The Committee stated that the main concern in the Colne Valley is the impact of construction work in the area. They have asked for further reassurance on traffic modelling and have requested HS2 Ltd produce a report on potential haul road adjustments. As well as this they would like a compromise on the relocation of Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre. 

On viaduct design, an argument presented by South Bucks District, the Committee has asked for a design competition to be considered. 

The full statement can be found here.

Select Committee News

Four members of the HS2 Select Committee visited parts of the Colne Valley on 15 January 2015, including parts of South Buckinghamshire as well as Hillingdon and Hertfordshire.  The Select Committee were accompanied by staff from HS2 Ltd, local MPs Dominic Grieve and Nick Hurd, community representatives, the CV Community Interest Company (CIC) and a councillor and officers from the local councils.

The committee were taken to Denham Ski Club and Savay Farm and lake and were shown the location of the viaduct, main and satellite compounds, the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and many of the local country lanes that would be used for construction.  Concerned activists were present at each location to voice their concerns and to protest against the scheme.

The Committee members, including the Chairman, were sympathetic, knowledgeable and very interested in what they were being told.  Robert Syms MP Chairman of the Select Committee stated “It is incredibly helpful to come and look and hear from local people, to give them the opportunity to show us what impact the railway will have on their community. It is a beautiful area and actually coming here and seeing these sites gives us a huge insight so that when we meet petitioners at committee we know the places they are talking about instead of just looking at maps.”

You can now download the handout produced for the Select Committee

To subscribe to our fortnightly E-updates, or to find out more about HS2, please email the Buckinghamshire County Council HS2 Project Team on HS2Blueprint@buckscc.gov.uk.

Buckinghamshire Council's HS2 summit

On the 8th October the Buckinghamshire County Council’s held its 7th HS2 summit. This summit focussed on preparation for the Select Committee process with speakers including Martin Tett (leader of Buckinghamshire County Council) and Alan Goodrum (Chief Executive for South Bucks and Chiltern District Council). 

You can now download presentation slides from the summit

Download our Summit Special E-update.

Government responses to health study

You can now download two government responses to the health study:

Higgins response to pilot health study

Goodwill response to pilot health study

Today in Committee Bulletins 

October 12th

Today in Committee
 
In the High Speed 2 Bill Select Committee, the following topics were presented on:

  • Tunnel Case Summing Up (Mark Lowe QC on behalf of the Councils)
  • Introduction to Buckinghamshire (BCC - Martin Tett)
  • Ecology (BCC - Dr Ian Thornhill)
  • Community and Environment Fund (BCC as Route-wide lead - Martin Tett)
  • Cultural Heritage (CDC – Catherine Murray) 

Usually within 36 hours, the full transcripts will be published on the Committee webpages, but some of the key messages from today included:
 
Tunnel case summing up

  • Councils collectively welcome the decision of the committee to recommend the extension of the bored tunnel to South Heath as a number of advantages flow from this recommendation
  • However, this modification of itself is not sufficient to persuade the Councils from their primary position for a fully bored tunnel through the AONB. Their preferred option is the one they put to the committee in July, namely CLT, or CLTi (with an intervention gap) if thought necessary for safety reasons. They would also be more than happy with CRAG’s T3i proposal. They see REPA’s C5 option as being inferior, but still better than C6.
  • The main issues dealt with in this summing up are:
    •    AONB status vs Impacts on People
    •    Traffic impacts: A413
    •    Cost
  • Five conclusions
    • Council’s continue to promote the CLT as the optimal approach to mitigating the impact of the proposal through the AONB
    • Request that the Committee to value the AONB landscape for its intrinsic qualities that give it national importance as well as its vital role as a place in which to live, to work and to enjoy recreation
    •  Urge the use of the Government’s own methodology for assessing the cost of harm to the landscape
    •  On cost, it is important to recall both that at this stage no such calculation can be precise. The importance attached at a national level to the conservation and enhancement of that landscape should outweigh any uncertainty over costs. Future generations will regard the argument over cost as a matter of significantly less importance than bearing the burden of harm to the AONB
    • The suggestion that increased tunnelling would necessarily cause additional harmful use of the A413 by construction vehicles is an ‘urban myth’ not founded in the evidence heard by this Committee

 
Introduction to Buckinghamshire

  • 65km of track - almost a third (29%) of the total route between London and Birmingham is in Buckinghamshire
  • All 5 Buckinghamshire MP constituencies are impacted by the proposal
  • Scale of the impact is severe. Bisects the length of the County, spoils unique landscape character and heritage of Bucks, detrimental impact on enjoyment of current and future generations who live, work or visit the County. 
  • Construction Impact, Visual intrusion, noise and disruption, Highways, Rights of Way, environmental impacts, not to mention the impact on strategic infrastructure, new housing and employment growth, new roads, railway stations, broadband programme – there is a need to be better co-ordinated with HS2, for that we need better engagement.
  • Buckinghamshire is not standing still – this pressure is on top of the significant housing growth in the county.
  • Cumulative impact of HS2 construction and connectivity with new and existing road and rail infrastructure
  • What legacy will be left?
  • Buckinghamshire is the 6th most productive place in the UK. Will HS2 put off the national firms currently based in Buckinghamshire? What will the impact be on SMEs? What disruption will the employees face travelling to work or between areas of business?
  • David vs. Goliath. BCC has engaged with the scheme – produced the Buckinghamshire Blueprint (endorsed by 4 Districts Councils and regional & national organisations including National Trust, CPRE, The Ramblers, BBOWT, and BTVLEP) and deposited in Parliament
  • In past 2 years County Council has hosted or attended more than 120 community meetings and drop in information events - and continues to hold sessions supporting petitioners
  • Held 65 bilateral meetings with HS2 and jointly with District Councils since August 2014
  • Small Team Bucks has worked on mitigation plans for noise, ecology, landscape and heritage impacts, roads, transport, waste etc and tried valiantly to engage with HS2 but it has been difficult and intermittent – very frustrating for the community groups and organisations we represent.
  • It is with thanks to the committee that we have made some progress to date – in particular achieved assurances for mitigation of impact in the Colne Valley but there is still work to do and there are still areas where our residents need the committees support. You will hear about these outstanding issues over the coming days…

 
Ecology

  • Connectivity of habitats,
    • In absence of a connectivity analysis (provided by HS2) BCC in partnership with the University of Birmingham provided the Select Committee with an overview of habitat connectivity in Buckinghamshire. This highlighted 6 specific locations where the County Council recommended green bridges should be provided across the county.
  • Biodiversity offsetting,
    • The council raised concerns that the offsetting calculation had not been shared by HS2 so we are not able to assess is the scheme is achieving ‘no net lost’.
  • The Ecology Review Group Terms of Reference.
    • We feel that the ecology review group should have input to the design of the scheme, not just monitoring as currently set out. Group should have independent chair.
  • BCC  also voiced support for other petitioners i.e. BBOWT on Bechsteins Bat
  • HS2 said they will publish offsetting calculation by end of year, but not necessarily at local level

 
Community & Environment Fund, and Business & Local Economy Fund

  • How was £30m arrived at?
  • In our PRD, HS2 directed us to the Community fund for things that we would consider as mitigation
  • We need a legacy for communities
  • The government based proposed funds on HS1. This is not helpful because: HS1 is a third of the length; HS1 fund was only for environment; HS1 did provide some benefits for the communities (for Bucks it is all pain and no gain)
  • When hosting a national significant infrastructure, the community should have some benefit
  • Fund is likely to be centrally controlled and managed
  • Fund is currently only available during construction – this is not acceptable
  • Communities need to benefit according to need; not how glossy their brochure is
  • Our ask is for
    • More money
    • Locally influenced
    • Independent body with local input
    • LA should not have to match fund – impossible in this financial climate
    • Funds should be available in operation as well as construction
  • Bottom up ideas from communities are important
  • Mr Hendrick explained that his county was suffering from fracking and also need a fund but don’t have a Select Committee to go to
  • HS2’s QC stated that the Fund was not something in the Bill and that he was not going to present evidence on it. He read from information paper C12 and stated that the Secretary of State has indicated that £30m is about right
  • Sir Peter repeated the slides and evidence should be sent to the Secretary of State; and for the SoS to report back, or report back through the Promoters.

 
Quote of the day:

" I feel like I am being led into a trap…”  Martin Tett in response to a question from HS2’s QC that we would not want the HS2 Bill to authorise roadworks more extensive than they need to be. Martin responded that we want to see the optimum mitigation for transport, and that may or may not involve more work
 
Tomorrow in Committee
 
Tomorrow's session is due to start at 0930 and can be watched on Parliament Live. We are currently expecting to cover the following topics:

  • Cultural Heritage (CDC) – the committee asked for this to be deferred
  • Steeple Claydon and Calvert Mitigation Plan (including FCC sidings, Sustainable Placement, Steeple Claydon Station, IMD lighting and landscaping, connectivity)
  • Routewide Landscape impacts
  • Impact on Council Services 

 

October 13

  • Cultural Heritage (CDC) – the committee asked for this to be deferred from yesterday
  • Steeple Claydon and Calvert Mitigation Plan (including FCC sidings, Sustainable Placement, Steeple Claydon Station, IMD lighting and landscaping, connectivity)
  • Routewide Landscape impacts

 
The Committee asked for the Council’s property issues to be deferred.
 
Usually within 36 hours, the full transcripts will be published on the Committee webpages, but some of the key messages from today included:
 
Cultural Heritage (CDC non-tunnel issues)

  • Potter Row: appropriate mitigation for landscape setting and noise for listed buildings
    • Concerns include Hunts Green Farm, Bury Farm and Hammonds Hall Farm
    • Requested assurances include that the design process will take account of both the special landscape needs and the need to provide noise mitigation; and that details submitted under S16 will include sound assessments to demonstrate that the historic buildings will remain fit for people to use them as before
    • HS2’s response was that this point of principle is one that the Bill provides for and that it is in the interest of HS2 to ensure that noise information is submitted with planning applications under S16 (more to follow when the substantive noise case is heard later this month).
  • Hunts Green Farm (care in the event of a vacancy)
    • The concern is that buildings decline in the event of a vacancy. There is no guarantee that compensation will be spent on the building.
    • Ask for an assurance that HS2 will look after buildings i.e. by monitoring the condition of the buildings.
    • HS2 responded to this by referring to E20 and AP4 published yesterday . The QC also referred to statutory powers under S16. They went on to discuss that liabilities lie with the freeholder and if the freeholder suffers injury due to an increase in liabilities, he can apply for compensation. Therefore HS2 believe there is sufficient reassurance already on this point.

 
Calvert and Steeple Claydon Mitigation Plan

  • Martin Tett introduced this group of asks stating that the communities in this area are arguably some of the most impacted on the whole route of phase 1 due to the cumulative impacts of the Infrastructure Maintenance Depot (IMD), Sustainable Placement and the two other major Infrastructure schemes in the form of East West Rail (EWR) and the Energy for Waste Plant (EfW)
  • HS2 is the tipping point, and accounts for 85% of the Infrastructure land take in this area.
  • The asks presented today have been developed in consultation with the District Council and local parishes (and have been built up with these groups)
  • Martin explained the layers of impact in this area from EfW, EWR, IMD, Sustainable Placement, HS2 line itself…
  • The severance of communities in this area was set out (access between the villages for amenities)
  • Tourism and leisure are important contributors to the local economy. Will people stop coming to the area?
  • We believe that HS2’s current mitigation proposals do not recognise the cumulative impacts
  • We have held numerous meetings with communities and they have said they want to see tangible benefits to offset the impact of HS2.
  • ASK 1 – Relocate FCC (Waste operator) rail sidings 
    • Martin Tett introduced the issues surrounding  the proposed FCC sidings relocation
    • FCC are putting forward a proposal to move the sidings south of Sheephouse Wood to remove impacts on the residents of Calvert Green / Charndon
    • The Committee, BCC/AVDC & HS2 agreed that this case should be further examined at the hearing of FCC on Oct 28th
  • ASK 2 – Removal of Shepherd’s Furze Sustainable Placement site
    • The council argued that the proposed ‘sustainable placement’ on the farm of Shepherd’s Farm is both unnecessary and against local waste policy
    • HS2 confirmed this would be “the last resort” and they were exploring options including to use the FCC site nearby
  • ASK 3 – To Provide a new station at Steeple Claydon (SC) to serve the local community and those working at the IMD
    • Edi Smockum presented as a SC resident on the need for a station to offset the wide impacts of HS2 on the area. She referenced the size and impact of the IMD and rail head
    • She explained how the station was a community born idea that would provide a positive legacy to offset the impact of HS2
    • The evidence base for the station was provided by WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff who were scheduled to appear to support the case. Unfortunately due to a conflict of interest they decided to not attend committee at late notice. Our QC provided a statement of our disappointment to the Committee which will be available in the transcript
  • ASK 4 - To be assured that all lighting impacts will be considered and approved by the planning authority
    • The planning authority wants to have control over the IMD and Calvert Railhead lighting to ensure that measures are taken to lessen the impact of this site in an area of dark skies.
  • ASK 5 - To revise the screening proposals to adequately mitigate visual impact at the IMD and the rail head
    • Two simple points were raised. Firstly the need for ‘temporary’ mitigation around the northern edge of the rail head for the 10 years of operation. Secondly the need for adequate mitigation on the southern side of EWR to mitigate impacts of the IMD on land and communities to the south.
    • HS2 said discussions were ongoing about the northern screening.
    • We emphasised that there is very limited land-take for adequate mitigation
  • ASK 6 - To address connectivity across the local area by facilitating Broadband provision, creating a new walking route to counter geographical severance and to undertake surfacing works on the existing Public Rights of Way network
    • Martin asked for HS2 to address connectivity across the local area through Broadband provision; a walking route from Steeple Claydon to Calvert; and resurfacing of Bridleway Steeple Claydon 18 (SCL/18)
    • HS2 confirmed that the bridleway was within the Bill limits and will be looked at
    • Sir Peter asked HS2 to ensure that they spoke to Dept. for Culture, Media and Sport about opportunities to give connectivity to rural local Bucks

Landscape

  • Our witness was concerned with ensuring HS2 had sufficient land-take within the Bill to deliver the mitigation e.g. graded bunding that is fitting in the landscape
  • Evidence included reference to specific green bridge proposals and multi-purpose green infrastructure (structures shouldn’t just be an engineering feature but fulfil multiple functions including economy, connectivity, landscape and ecology
  • It is hoped that the local authorities will have continued involvement in development of the Landscape Design Approach  and that this document will be binding on the nominated undertaker
  • There was an assurance that a panel involving all AONB local authorities would be established prior to royal assent to influence detailed design
  • The Committee stated a view that they were reluctant to contemplate any further additional provisions that would lead to a delay in the programme for Royal Assent. The local authorities expressed the concern that this could disadvantage petitioners coming later in the process 

Quotes of the Day
 
“HS2’s web spreads far…” (Mark Lowe QC) in relation to the wide spread network of consultants employed by HS2

“We understand that we are asking a lot of HS2, but HS2 are asking a lot of us…” (Edi Smockum on behalf of Steeple Claydon Parish Council in relation to the Station ask and the impact in the north of Bucks
 
Tomorrow in Committee

  • South West Aylesbury
  • Transport including Sensitive junctions, A413, A355 Beaconsfield, A4010 – A413, Bus services and maintenance
  • Summing up

 

October 14

In the High Speed 2 Bill Select Committee, the following topics were presented on:

  • South West Aylesbury – Princes Risborough Line underpass and Linear Park
  • Transport (Sensitive junctions, Beaconsfield, A4010 – A413 link, schools on construction routes, public buses, maintenance of roads)

 
The Committee also asked to be shown the fly-over video for CFA 13, 12 & 11. This was done at the start of the session. During this presentation, HS2’s QC confirmed sustainable placement is a last resort; are looking at other options; and will be reporting back to the Wood brothers and the Committee ASAP. The Committee asked for the location of the potential station on the EWR line at Steeple Claydon to be pointed out.
 
Usually within 36 hours, the full transcripts will be published on the Committee webpages, but some of the key messages from today included:


South-west Aylesbury : Princes Risborough line underpass

  • BCC Chief Executive Chris Williams presented on this ask on behalf of AVDC & BCC
  • Chris introduced the context of Aylesbury: the line passes 180 from the town at its closest point, 15,700 residents live within 1km of the line, and that the wards close to the line are some of the most deprived wards in the County
  • The Committee asked Chris about the levels of growth facing Aylesbury and the challenges this poses
  • Chris set out for the Committee long held transport aspirations for Aylesbury and what was currently being provided through other developments
  • Chris set out that HS2 would preclude aspects of the long held strategic ambitions for network improvements.
  • Therefore… ASK: the provision of an underpass (the width of a dual carriageway, foot & cycleway) under the Prince Risborough line
  • This proposal includes the downgrading of an accommodation bridge to a footpath bridge and moving a balancing pond.
  • HS2 are raising the Princes Risborough rail line anyway as part of the Bill
  • We have costed our proposal to save HS2 money. It also creates improved agricultural access for landowners and improved maintenance access of HS2.
  • HS2 are not yet clear on whether this proposal would require an Additional Provision and will do work to look into this
  • Sir Peter asked to hear from  the promoters how this proposal could happen if provision isn’t made through the Bill
  • HS2 responded that they have started to do their own cost assessments which look like the differ from ours. HS2 said they need to complete this work and will report back to Committee before end of October and/or at the time the landowners are due to appear 
  • The committee appeared to see the opportunity here and expressed that it seemed sensible to bring all these things together

South-west Aylesbury : Linear Park

  • Jonatan Bellars from AVDC presented this ask on behalf of BCC & AVDC
  • Aylesbury Linear Park is a long standing policy aspiration of both councils. Aylesbury has a deficiency in publically accessible green space.
  • AVDC/BCC presented a proposal which would allow for a linear park/cycleway to be provided within the land required for bunding/mitigation planting. BCC/AVDC have previously presented this to HS2, aligned with the landowners
  • HS2 said this was the same situation they had with West Hyde in the Colne Valley
  • HS2 said that they need to consider both private and public interests.
  • HS2 – “None of this is saying no, I just can’t give an unqualified yes at this stage”
  • Powers of the Bill allow for decisions about site restoration / who the land goes back to
  • Committee – I think that it is useful that you have put on the record your desire for public access. It seems further conversations need to be had with BCC and other parties to see if this is possible
  • Committee – this ask is a little more complicated than the first as some of these issues can only be decided long after this committee has finished sitting
  • Committee suggested that there were 3 courses of action: BCC/AVDC/HS2/landowners come to an understanding either as an assurance or just an understanding; or after hearing back this committee writes in some provision (‘although I suspect this is the messiest route’);with support of all leading Counsels, the committee offer a form of words which we could put in our report which prides strong encouragement. ‘I suspect that the 1st option would be the best but that the 3rd might be sensible anyway’
  • The Chair also noted that public rights of way to planting areas have not yet been discussed in committee so need discussion about that to see there are opportunities or not
  • Sir Peter commented that this is not just an opportunist thing – Aylesbury have had the view of LP anyway so this may be a step towards it, if that is in the public view

 

  • BCC/AVDC confirmed that they hope to be able to submit a letter of support to the committee from all of the landowners soon for the above askes (it has proven complicated due to the number of landowners involved)

 
Transport

At time of writing complex negotiations are still ongoing in relation to a large number of the transport issues. Please find below an interim update on :

  • Sensitive Junctions
    • 20 junction capacity and 37 junction safety concerns spanning the County
    • 20 junctions identified where queues and delays will double and have a material effect on the network
    • Update: Significant and positive progress is being made on negotiations at time of writing. BCC will report back to Committee on Monday 19th.
  • Aylesbury – A4010 to A413 link
    • The ‘Stoke Mandeville bypass’ as currently in the HS2 proposals will have a serious adverse impact on the gyratory. The junction cannot cope with the additional demands without the addition of a link from the A4010 to the A413. Without this additional link, BCC have modelled that there will be traffic increases across the town
    • Update: In negotiations on this point
  • Beaconsfield : A355 / A40 pinch point
    • BCC presented on traffic impact HS2 construction traffic will have in this area (a 74% increase in HGVs for example) and requested that HS2 help BCC deliver the Wilton Park Diversion in time for HS2 Mass Haul Traffic in 2019
    • The committee asked BCC to have more conversations with all parties involved and report back
  • Damage to construction traffic routes (prior to the use of the routes by HS2; and after the routes have used)
    • The ask is for the nominated undertaker to fund works, or reimburse highways authority if they do it.
    • Update: Agreement in principle reached – subject to consultation & sign off
  • Schools on construction routes
    • 11 schools / colleges on HS2 construction routes (7 on strategic A roads) and will suffer an increase in HGV and/or LGVs
    • Ask for refresh existing features outside schools (markings / red surfacing / warning signs) plus additional measures specific to each school
    • Update: Agreement reached that the specifics should be included in Local Environmental Management Plans in consultation with individual schools
  • Public buses, school and adult social care transport services
    • Select Committee agreed that HS2 Ltd agreed that it is a route wide issue that should be on the agenda of the Highways Subgroup
    • And HS2 should take forward with each individual Highway Authority and should form part of the Service Level Agreement for New Burdens on Local Authorities.

BCC provided an update on the progress of the Highways Subgroup on a number of route wide transport issues.
 
The BCC HS2 transport team has worked tirelessly on the highways issues and are committed to feeding back to communities as soon as possible, who we know are concerned about these impacts.
 
Quotes of the day

  •  “ …not to bring the 3 things together seems like a ‘Yes Minister’ sort of thing” (Sir Peter Bottomley, Committee Member) in relation to the Princes Risborough line underpass ask
  • “We hope you don't come back, we hope there is a solution!” (Peter Symns, Chair of Committee) in relation to the Princes Risborough line underpass ask
  • “I could walk quicker than the time the queue will take to get through Beaconsfield!” (Jim Stevens, Transport witness) in relation to the impact HS2 construction traffic will have on Beaconsfield  - can take 18mins to get through A355 & A40 in Beaconsfield

Useful links

These links will take you to the HS2 related pages of local councils and other organisations affected by the proposed route:

Downloads

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Last updated: 20 March 2017