March 3, 2016

John Bercow Column

John writes for the Buckingham and Winslow Advertiser & Bucks Herald.

Conclusions reached by the HS2 Select Committee.

Over the course of the last couple of years, readers will have learned about the work of a special Select Committee in the House of Commons to scrutinise the Government’s High Speed 2 Bill.  The Committee has heard from nearly 1600 petitioners, sat for 120 days and studied several thousand pages of evidence.

This week, the Committee announced its conclusions.  A number of very important recommendations on road access have been made in the report, and an even greater number of assurances have been given by High Speed 2 Limited thanks to the work of Buckinghamshire County Council.  I am particularly pleased that the Committee agreed with me – and many others – that it will be possible to lessen the impact on residents in the Calvert and Calvert Green areas by relocating some rail infrastructure further away from homes.

In many cases, the examination of petitions by the Select Committee has concentrated the mind of HS2 Ltd and many agreements were reached without the need for direct intervention.  I am pleased to learn that this is the case in Turweston as well as in relation to a number of private landowners.

But I am, of course, disappointed that a number of issues raised have not been pursued by the Committee.  I believe that Chetwode remains woefully under protected, and although the Steeple Claydon area will get the best available technology to reduce light spillage from the maintenance depot I am saddened that the Committee felt unable to support the case for an East West Rail station in the area.

Some people affected by HS2 may find the Select Committee’s report disappointing.  Others less so.  As the Bill continues its passage through Parliament, I will continue to do all that I can to ensure that Buckinghamshire gets the best possible deal.

This article was first published in the Herald on 24th February and the Advertiser on the 26th