HS2 Mitigation: Great Missenden Link Road frequently asked questions

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Last updated: 12 November 2019
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Frequently Asked Questions and Responses from Buckinghamshire County Council and Great Missenden Parish Council

November 2019

 

Why were residents not consulted originally?

We have actively campaigned against HS2 since it was first announced in 2009 and responded to all HS2 consultations. When it became apparent that the Government was intent on pushing ahead with the scheme, the council petitioned Parliament for mitigation for residents, local businesses and the natural environment across Buckinghamshire.

Great Missenden Parish Council (GMPC), with the local combined school, also petitioned for mitigation against the impact of the scheme including the haul road opposite Link Road. We originally asked for this haul road to be sited further north but HS2 Ltd maintained this was not possible.

Significant mitigation measures were agreed by Parliament. The design and delivery of the scheme lays with HS2 Ltd and they commissioned their appointed Enabling Works Contractor, Fusion JV, to carry this out.

There has been no legal requirement for HS2 Ltd to formally consult on their scheme, however Fusion has carried out several engagement events in Great Missenden and the surrounding areas. The effectiveness of these events was criticised and raised with the HS2 Commissioners when they were invited to the village by GMPC in July 2019. We agree that the engagement so far does not seem to have been done to the satisfaction of many residents.

 

Why can't all the trees be saved?

The recent redesign means all but one of the trees will remain untouched. The problems facing Great Missenden include the large volume of HGVs forecast to use the Link Road roundabout. This is likely to cause congestion at the roundabout, which in turn could cause a significant tailback through the old High Street and even potentially towards Prestwood.

The idea of the proposed scheme was to widen Link Road such that it both reduced the length of queuing, thus preventing serious tailbacks, and enables vehicles to exit the Link Road more easily onto the A413. Fusion’s original scheme would have widened the road for a length that would have entailed removing eight trees.

Our officers have now intervened and proposed a different scheme with a shorter length of widening, thus enabling seven of the eight trees to be saved. At the moment, there is still one small tree near the roundabout which needs to be removed, but the plan is for this to be replaced by a semi-mature tree in due course.

There will also be a replacement tree planting scheme which should enhance Link Road.

 

Why did you refuse to have a public, open meeting?

The HS2 scheme was designed by Fusion and would have been delivered by Fusion. It has therefore been Fusion's responsibility, along with HS2 Ltd, to engage with local residents. A public event involving representatives from all the local authorities and HS2 Ltd was arranged by the parish council on 9th June 2017 to review the project and evolving mitigation secured. It was followed by regular updates in the local newspaper, in the local library and to village organisations and via other platforms (eg HS2 Common Place updates). These were also accompanied by Buckinghamshire County Council and the parish council regularly engaging with Fusion JV over the last 3 years.

However, the county and parish council agree that these initiatives could have been more effective in engaging with the wider community.

 

Why did you not clarify the status of Link Road?

We believe that the work on the entrance to Link Road is both enabling and mitigation given the volume of HS2 works HGVs that will need to access the haul road and use the A413.

 

Why did you petition for a plan that was so environmentally damaging?

Wel did not petition for a plan that would be environmentally damaging. It does however believe that HS2 is inherently environmentally damaging. The council's intention throughout was to help Great Missenden by alleviating the worst impacts of HS2 on the village, its residents, businesses and visitors. In addition the parish council raised concerns over the safety of users of their Buryfield facilities and the children attending schools in the village.

 

What is the councils' position on HS2?

The county and parish council and all local councillors continue to strongly oppose HS2. The county council has been the leading force amongst local authorities fighting HS2 for over ten years. This included forming and chairing the 51M alliance of Phase 1 councils opposed to HS2 and extensive campaigning alongside other groups and stakeholders.

However, while continuing to actively lobby against HS2, at this stage of proceedings the councils have little option but to liaise with HS2 Ltd and its contractors in order to ensure we get the best mitigation for Buckinghamshire residents and businesses.

 

How much money has HS2 paid to BCC and its agents as part of the HS2 process of works/compensation?

We have not received any money directly from HS2 Ltd for any of the proposed work on the Link Road or elsewhere in Great Missenden. All costs for the Fusion scheme would be paid direct to Fusion by HS2 Ltd. Money has been made available for the school drop off area and replacement parking, as detailed below in the register.

All the mitigation secured by BCC in conjunction with GMPC is publically available on the Register of Undertakings and Assurances.

 

Have you considered alternative less environmentally damaging works for other works across Bucks?

Buckinghamshire County Council has limited powers under the HS2 Act of Parliament. We are extremely disappointed that, despite strong lobbying to stop the preparation work on the Infrastructure Maintenance Depot (IMD) at Calvert/Steeple Claydon and works at Denham until the Oakervee Report is published, large swathes of trees and vegetation have begun to be removed.

The leader of the county council has written to the Secretary of State for Transport on three occasions this year and also to the prime minister on this matter.

 

Why did you not carry out adequate environmental studies on Link Road and the surrounding land?

HS2 Ltd carried out the environmental surveys necessary in connection with their work as per their responsibilities under the Environmental Minimum Requirements (EMRs). As stated, we did not design, procure or pay for the works on Link Road. We have limited powers under the HS2 Act.

The Act specifically says:

'The only ground on which the highway authority may refuse to approve plans or specifications for the purposes of sub-paragraph (5) is that they ought to be modified to prevent or reduce:

  • (a)injury to local amenity, or
  • (b)prejudicial effects on road safety or on the free flow of traffic in the local area

and are reasonably capable of being so modified'.

 

Are you still fighting against HS2?

We have urged the Oakervee Review to listen to the strong weight of evidence and recommend that HS2 be cancelled.

We will continue to seek the very best mitigation for Buckinghamshire and hold HS2 Ltd and their contractors to account for all their works across the county.

 

Why did you deny that the Link Road widening scheme was proposed by Buckinghamshire County Council, and attempt to pass the buck to HS2?

There may have been some confusion over what was meant when the question was first asked. As previously stated, we believe the scheme to be both enabling work and mitigation.

Also, whilst we did petition for mitigation, alongside continued lobbying for the scheme to be halted altogether, the precise design of the scheme was carried out by HS2 who are also responsible for all surveys and engagement with the community.

 

Why did you meet only two residents in a closed-door meeting last Thursday?

When the leader of the county Council, Martin Tett, and his Deputy, Mark Shaw, visited Great Missenden on 18th October they were asked by two residents about detailed aspects of the scheme with which they were unfamiliar. Martin Tett agreed to go back and consult our officers over these detailed specifics. This was an informal briefing, not a public or lobbying meeting.

He did however invite the appointed representatives of the residents, Peter Martin (county councillor), and the parish council lead for HS2, Mike Johnstone to attend.

The local resident who had raised the specific points was also invited and he was free to bring a colleague. The main point here is that from this meeting, significant changes have been secured from HS2 for the Link Road scheme. We also agreed to summarise and respond to questions from the wider community using these FAQs.

 

Do you have the power to halt further works on HS2 pending the Oakervee Review in Bucks?

We do not have the power to halt any HS2 works.

The Leader of the county council and other local councillors have written repeatedly asking for this work to cease pending the results of the Review. With the upcoming general election, we expect a delay in the publication of the Oakervee Review.

 

We understand the county council and HS2 Ltd have now (29 October) devised a less environmentally damaging scheme? Why did you wait until now?

The original scheme (M1) would not have addressed the concerns regarding congestion on Link Road, which would have impacted on the village.

The revised scheme (M2) that was designed by HS2 would have been an effective technical solution and addressed our concerns about congestion on Link Road. It was only when detailed design was presented to the county council that it became clear that trees would have to be removed and discussions at the time focused on suitable locations for replanting. However, it became clear from the recent strength of feeling amongst local community members that they considered the proposed loss of the eight trees in Link Road unacceptable so we took action.

After seeing for himself and hearing from concerned local residents and the local County Councillor, Peter Martin, the leader of the council asked council officers to intervene and look at whether a scheme could be amended so that it would achieve the same or similar mitigation as the M2 scheme, but with less environmental impact. We believe that this has been achieved, and we hope that within the challenging confines of working to mitigate the impact of HS2 on Buckinghamshire communities, residents and campaigners will be pleased with this outcome.

HS2 Ltd and their contractors, Fusion, are now preparing an amended scheme and intend to engage with the local community as soon as a suitable design is available.

 

Why have new parking suspension notices not been removed?

Parking suspension notices along Link Road have now been removed. The parish and district councils have confirmed there will be free parking on Saturdays from now until Christmas.

 

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