August 16, 2017

East West Rail Consultation

East West Rail Western Section Phase 2 Project Consultation response – Rt Hon John Bercow MP 
I am responding to this consultation as the Member of Parliament for Buckingham.  My interest lies mainly in the Aylesbury Vale sub-section where the sub-areas of Claydon/Quainton, Winslow/Swanbourne and parts of Aylesbury fall within my constituency.
In principle I support East West Rail (EWR2), recognising the benefits it has the potential to bring.  EWR will support the ambition of significant economic growth in a sustainable manner, as well as offering improved connectivity, in some cases removing the need for passengers to travel via London.
While appreciative of the many benefits this project has the potential to bring, it is important that the scheme’ promoter is cognisant of the risk of deleterious impact on communities in the vicinity of the route and associated construction works.
I broadly welcome the drive to complete this project quickly.  However, the expeditious delivery of EWR2 must not come at the cost of cutting corners and neglecting important mitigation measures.  Similarly, I do not wish to see a situation in which viable mitigation measures are discounted on grounds of cost.  EWR2 is a project which has the potential to enjoy widespread support across North Buckinghamshire; this is unachievable if the scheme’ promoters fail properly to recognise and remedy the very genuine concerns of residents who stand to suffer at the hands of yet another transport infrastructure project.
I am pleased to note from the consultation documents that this exercise “will inform design development” and that “further design development will take place prior to the submission of the TWAO documents”.  I trust that all suggestions and concerns received as part of this exercise will be properly considered and assessed.
I will, of course, monitor the development of this scheme closely.  If I am not satisfied with the steps taken to alleviate the concerns of residents, and if acceptable solutions are not found to resolve the adverse impact of construction across my constituency, I will stand resolute with my constituents in opposing the scheme until a suitable resolution is found.
General Comments 
a) Given that HS2 has already received Royal Assent and traffic forecasts, along with noise and vibration assessments are already available in relation to this project, I was surprised that no cumulative impact assessment of the two projects was included in the EWR consultation.  On this basis, I would suggest that the information provided in the EWR consultation is not an accurate reflection of the likely impact in the areas.
b) I have been approached by constituents who seek greater clarity on proposed noise mitigation as well as a greater level of detail about the ecological impact of construction and operation.
c) I should also like to put on record my support for the development of a station in Winslow.
1. Validity of information within consultation documents
I have been approached by a number of constituents concerned that some information provided within the Consultation and Draft Environmental Statement documents is not accurate.  Specifically, concerns have been raised with me about the published traffic flow figures for vehicles travelling to and from the proposed depot in Charndon (from the A41 through Grendon Underwood and Edgcott onwards to Charndon).
Residents established at an information event that the actual estimated traffic figures are some 7 times greater than those published in the consultation documents.
An explanation is required as to how such an error could have arisen and assurances that an opportunity will be provided for interested parties to consider the actual forecasted figures.
2. Charndon Compound
Residents living in and around the small village of Charndon are understandably anxious about the proposed construction depot and the associated impacts this will have on local infrastructure.
Early suggestions that this proposed depot be incorporated into the site earmarked for the High Speed 2 Infrastructure Maintenance Depot were quickly discarded.  EWR must reconsider this option at the earliest opportunity.
Similarly, I understand that a request to reconfigure plans for the Depot and the proposed mitigation site went unheeded.   East West Rail needs urgently to reconsider the site of this proposed depot which sits far too close to the village.
3. Construction Traffic
The revised traffic forecast as outlined in my earlier remarks is a cause of great alarm.  It simply is not practical for in excess of 80 Heavy Goods Vehicle movements to be made along the proposed route, through small villages, to reach the Depot.  In addition, Light Good Vehicle movements and journeys made by up to 300 workers travelling to and from the site will compound the problem.
The roads in question are narrow, winding and totally unsuitable to be used as a construction
If a Depot is to be sited as currently proposed, a haul road must be constructed taking all construction vehicles from a major A road to the depot and away from smaller, rural roads.
I trust that the comments submitted as part of this consultation exercise will be thoroughly considered by Network Rail.  Having been so considered, they must then be acted upon in order that this project can proceed causing minimal disruption to those individuals and communities who, as it stands, look set to be severely adversely affected.