Report of the cumulative impacts of HS2 works

High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 am on 8th March 2016.

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(1) The Nominated Undertaker shall prepare a report on the cumulative impacts of the works on each community forum area along the line of route.

(2) The report shall outline the key concerns from community groups and if and how these concerns have been addressed.

(3) The report shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament no later than three months after the day on which this Act comes into force.—

This new clause requires the Nominated Undertaker to report on the likely cumulative impact of HS2 construction works on each community area along the route. This report is to reflect the concerns of the communities affected and outline the ways in which the Nominated Undertaker plans to address these.

Brought up, read the First time, and motion made (this day), That the clause be read a Second time.

Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Minister (Transport) 2:00 pm, 8th March 2016

I was more than halfway through moving the motion this morning. In fact, I was just about to finish. I remind the Committee that the new clause would require the nominated undertaker to report on the likely cumulative impact of HS2 construction works on each community along the route. Our concern is that although habitability and individual impacts were identified by HS2 Ltd, the cumulative effects of the various impacts on homes and habitability were not accounted for. The methodology, which I described in a little detail, left something to be desired. I will not repeat everything that I said immediately before the lunch break, but I indicate that I intend to press the new clause to a vote.

Finally, there is currently no assessment of the cumulative impacts where the individual impacts are below the set limits. There is also no assessment of the possible knock-on impacts of mitigation measures. We discussed the impact in a particular set of circumstances that I described by way of example. The new clause would require the nominated undertaker to address those concerns by publishing a report on the likely cumulative impact of HS2 construction works on each community area along the route that includes the key concerns expressed by community groups, and whether and how those concerns have been addressed.

Photo of Robert Goodwill Robert Goodwill Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The new clause would introduce a requirement to repeat work that has already been undertaken and that has been scrutinised by the Select Committee. The Bill, when deposited, was accompanied by an environmental statement that reported the likely significant environmental effects of the construction and operation of phase 1 of HS2. The statement reported the likely significant effects of the scheme on matters including noise, air quality, traffic and ecology. The environmental statement was drafted so that people in the communities along the route could understand the likely effects in their area.

The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 require that environmental statements report cumulative effects. Such effects were reported in the HS2 environmental assessment, which has been found to be compliant with the regulations. Therefore, subsection (1) of the new clause is unnecessary, as an environmental impact assessment has already been prepared. The assessment reported the environmental effects of the scheme on each community, including the cumulative effects. There would be no benefit in repeating that exercise.

Throughout the development of HS2, the concerns of communities along the route that may be affected have been at the front of our minds. We take those concerns very seriously and have sought to address them through changes to the scheme and through commitments that mitigate those concerns. In preparing the environmental statement, HS2 Ltd met local communities through a series of community forum meetings, where people raised issues and concerns with the proposed schemes. Those concerns were reported in the community forum area reports in the environmental statement. The key concerns of communities along the route have therefore been identified and set out.

Again, during the petitioning process, local concerns were raised by individuals, community groups and local authorities. Those concerns were considered through the Select Committee process and, where appropriate, have been addressed by alterations to the scheme or by commitments to mitigate impacts. We believe that the concerns of communities along the route have been reported and are well understood, and that commitments have been given to address them. The requirement in the new clause to report the concerns of communities and how those concerns are being addressed is unnecessary.

The hon. Gentleman asked about cumulative effects. Camden Council has argued that the cumulative impacts have not been assessed, and it requested the consideration of habitability assessments to identify mitigation. HS2 Ltd does not accept the view that cumulative effects have not been assessed. The predicted significant amenity effects resulting from a combination of significant noise and vibration, HGV construction traffic, and visual and air quality effects are reported in the community chapter of the environmental statement. That is a standard approach in an environmental impact assessment, and we do not consider an additional bespoke habitability assessment to be required.

That is not to say that the concerns of residents near the works in Camden are not taken seriously. HS2 Ltd is continuing to discuss with the London Borough of Camden how mitigation provided on a topic-by-topic basis, including that outlined in the draft code of construction practice, will be implemented in practice. That includes a focus on the potential topics that might lead to a combination of cumulative amenity effects. Furthermore, a specific assurance has been provided to the London Borough of Camden, including a commitment to further consider a group of residential properties that is currently not identified as being likely to qualify for noise insulation.

The environmental study was undertaken in response to the exceptional nature of the construction works in Camden, given their duration and intensity. Following the completion of further surveys, where appropriate, the nominated undertaker will seek to agree appropriate remedial measures with the London Borough of Camden. As the environmental assessment has already reported the cumulative effects of High Speed 2 on communities and assurances have been given that address habitability issues, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will withdraw the new clause.

Photo of Andy McDonald Andy McDonald Shadow Minister (Transport)

The Minister and I simply disagree about the appropriate methodology and the need for the Bill to require a report on cumulative impacts. I hear what he has to say, but, given that he seems to support what I said in introducing the new clause, I would rather borrow his belt and braces and put the matter to a vote.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

The Committee divided:

Ayes 4, Noes 9.

Division number 9 Christmas Tree Industry — Report of the cumulative impacts of HS2 works

Aye: 4 MPs

No: 9 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Nos: A-Z by last name

Question accordingly negatived.

New Clause 29