HS2 and council clash over Colne Valley viaduct ‘uncertainty’
Published by Setfords Solicitors on 16th September 2019 -
High Speed 2 Ltd (HS2 Ltd) and the Chiltern District Council & South Bucks District Council (CDC&SBDC) have clashed over the financial viability of the Colne Valley viaduct, latest HS2 board papers reveal.
During the board meeting from May this year, CDC&SBDC project solicitor and manager for HS2 Ifath Nawaz said that there "uncertainty about affordability and design of Colne Valley Viaduct".
The new controversial, 3.4km long viaduct will be in the Colne Valley Regional Park which predominantly runs through Buckinghamshire, with parts in the London Borough of Hillingdon, Berkshire and Hertfordshire, and a small area in Surrey.
In the meeting Nawaz referred to the motion made by Buckingham County Council to the government in April this year requesting that all enabling work for HS2 in Buckinghamshire - including on the viaduct - was paused until notice to proceed to the main works contractors was approved.
At the time it said it could “see no reason why the District or County should suffer significant disruption and long term environmental destruction” until detailed design and cost had been approved.
However speaking on behalf of the Department for Transport, HS2 minister Nusrat Ghani said she had “no intention of halting work on HS2 in Buckinghamshire or elsewhere” as it was crucial to unlocking economic growth and improved productivity in the midlands and north.
In response to the affordability, HS2 programme director, north area Mike Lyons said that the “preferred design” was included in the current cost baseline but that there was contingency “to allow for design development”.
The council also clashed over the delivery of mitigation planting around the viaduct with Nawaz saying that the HS2 Act was “not satisfactory” as it did not provide a “sufficient guarantee that mitigation would be delivered”.
However, HS2 responded by saying that the Act did provide Local Authorities with certainty that “satisfactory mitigation will be delivered, through the “Bringing Into Use” (BIU) consent that was required before the railway can be opened.
A HS2 spokesperson added:“HS2 Ltd recently carried out a series of engagement events in the local area showcasing the revised designs for the Colne Valley Viaduct ahead of the Schedule 17 submissions. These events were the opportunity to see the feedback from the public on the original design concepts showcased last year.
“The preferred design for the viaduct is included in the current cost baseline. If required, there is contingency to allow for design development.”