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Assessing the historic impact of HS2 - Year Three


After two years of surveys along the proposed route of HS2, 2013 was the ‘Year of Documents’ for the society's HS2 project team. Both HS2 Limited (acting on behalf of the government) and Buckinghamshire County Council issued important policy documents on HS2. All called for a response.

But practical efforts did not cease, though work did concentrate on the most historically important site affected by the HS2 plans: the Stoke Mandeville old church ruins and deserted village site.

The society's efforts during the year therefore focused on three things:

The HS2 Environmental Statement

The end of 2013 saw the publication of the HS2 Environmental Statement, which included a great amount of the detail that was missing from the draft version. In fact it ran to more than 30,000 pages. Despite this, the period allowed by the government for responses to this mass of detailed proposals within a ‘public consultation’ was a mere eight weeks.

As a representative of Bucks County Council told the Guardian newspaper, to tackle this within the time limit would mean reading, understanding and composing a reponse at a rate of more than 500 pages per day!

Nonetheless, the Environmental Statement is a critical document because it set out those elements of the environment that were recognised by HS2 Limited as of value, set a value on them – high or low, and estimated the impact that HS2 and its construction would have. Its engineering plans indicated how these assets would be affected by the line's construction.

Responding to this was therefore also critical, otherwise errors and misjudgments would go uncorrected and become fixed in the HS2 engineering plans.

This task faced the society's HS2 project team at the start of 2014.