Category Archives: High Speed Two (HS2)

HS2 Action Alliance

546247_379552958754751_830719736_nToday I wrote a letter to the High Speed Rail Select Committee in support of the HS2 Action Alliance’s (HS2AA) right to petition them next week.

The HS2AA have gathered a petition from thousands of people directly affected by the proposed rail line, and have worked with numerous independent experts to gather data and analysis on issues like noise, carbon emissions, biodiversity, as well as the personal costs to communities and people’s lives.

However, HS2 Ltd, the company responsible for developing and promoting the rail line, have challenged the right of the HS2AA to appear before the Select Committee and present it’s evidence.

This would leave the Select Committee without valuable information, as well as depriving all those who have worked with the HS2AA from having a voice, which includes many in our area.

I believe this would be wrong, and I have urged the Committee not to uphold this challenge. This would allow all sides of the debate to be heard, so that the views of those directly affected can be better understood, and hopefully the Government can start to re-think it’s plans.

A decision is expected early next week, and I will be closely monitoring this issue in Parliament.

Read more about the work of the HS2AA here

MP continues to lead the fight against HS2

The Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire, Natascha Engel, continues to campaign against the case for HS2 and demand that the Government gives more say to the people who will be directly affected by the project.

As well as presenting a No to HS2 petition, signed by hundreds of angry residents, to Parliament, Ms Engel also spoke in a recent debate on the HS2 Hybrid Bill.

Arguing that the business case for HS2 is flawed, Ms Engel said: “I am for improving the rail network, for better connections between cities, especially in the north, and for greater capacity where it is needed.

“However, this is not the right project. A report by the Institute of Economic Affairs undermines the economic argument will HS2 will regenerate the north and close the north-south divide. It will not.”

Ms Engel went on to criticise the lack of consultation that has taken place with the people whose homes and businesses will be severely affected by HS2.

With the proposed route for the high speed train set to cut straight through many areas of Derbyshire, including Killamarsh, Renishaw and Staveley, hundreds of angry residents put their names down to protest against the plans.

The Killamarsh & Renishaw HS2 Action Group, who hold monthly meetings have also been campaigining against the project and raising local awareness.

Group Chairman, Peter Howarth added: “We’re annoyed at the total disregard that has been given to our villages when the planning for HS2 went ahead.

“The blight caused now and for the future throws a massive dark cloud over all of us and, at present, we do not see a way out.

“We oppose this development at every level and will continue our fight to protect our village.”

Follow the link here for the full transcription of Ms Engel’s speech.

STATEMENT ENDS

For further information contact:
Natascha Engel MP
Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire
Tel: 0207 219 4709 (Westminster office)
Tel: 01246 439 018 (Constituency office)
http://www.nataschaengelmp.org.uk

HS2 Votes and Petition

petitionThis week I spoke out against the HS2 rail project in the House of Commons.

I have always been a huge supporter of rail investment and I believe we need much greater connectivity between the cities in the North, Midlands and the South, however the current HS2 plans do nothing to address the transport problems our country faces, and they are set to waste tens of billions of pounds of tax-payers’ money.

On Monday I voted against the HS2 Bill, and today I put forward a petition from our local area into Parliament to declare our opposition to it.

Hundreds of people from North East Derbyshire have written to me about HS2 and hundreds more have added their support to this petition, and I hope the Government will listen to our voices as we urge them once again to think again and abandon this deeply flawed and unpopular policy.

I will continue to campaign against HS2, and I have consistently voted against it in Parliament.

Watch me present the petition in Parliament here

Watch the HS2 debate in full here

Read the transcript here

Read my Press Release on this here

Natascha Engel MP comments on HS2 at Tapton Lock’s launch of Santa Cruises

North East Derbyshire MP, Natascha Engel, attended the launch of the Santa Special Cruise at Tapton Lock on 2 November 2013.

Speaking to Eckington Parish TV, Natascha talks about her personal memories of Tapton Lock and comments on the impact HS2 could have on the future of the canal.

Natascha Engel Speaks out against HS2 on Daily Politics Show

High Speed Rail gathered more momentum on Thursday 31 October 2013 when the Preparation Bill returned to the House of Commons for its Third Reading.

Natascha Engel, Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire has consistently spoken out against HS2.

In 2008 costings for the the project stood at £17bn. Today it stands at £50bn with many respected organisations and businesses questioning the viability of the whole project.

Commenting after the debate in which only 36 Members of Parliament voted against the Third reading Natascha Engel said,

“There is no doubt that we do need to improve our railways and transport infrastructure but with such an important project costing billions of pounds this needs to be done with more care.  We should be looking at any other options for improving our railways, but where are they? How did the Department for Transport identify where the problems were on our railways and what other options were looked at?  I have not seen anything.  The people in my constituency of North East Derbyshire who are affected by this project are not only paying for this through their taxes but they are paying for it with their homes and communities.  I voted against the Third reading and will keep opposing it.”

 

 

 

 

To watch Natascha’s interview visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03gps89/Daily_Politics_31_10_2013/

 

Derbyshire County Council consult on HS2

Derbyshire County Council are running a series of local meetings to gather feedback concerning the proposed route of HS2 through Derbyshire. For full details of all of the meetings across the County click here. Meetings in North East Derbyshire are as follows:

  • Killamarsh 14 November 12pm – 8pm Killamarsh Sports Centre, Stanley St
  • Staveley 29 November 12pm – 8pm The Speedwell Rooms, Inkersall Road

To read County Council reports on HS2 click the links below

HS2 – The Government’s proposals for High Speed Rail

Arrangements for responding to the Government’s proposals.

HS2 Consultation Events

HS2 Ltd and Central Government will be hosting public consultation events along the proposed route of Phase 2. Some of the dates and venues for those in the Sheffield City Region have been announced and these are:

Killamarsh          Thursday 14 November 2013        12pm-8pm                 Killamarsh Sports Centre, Stanley Street, Killamarsh S21 1EL

Meadowhall        Friday 15 November 2013             12pm-8pm                     IceSheffield, Coleridge Road, Sheffield S9 5DA

Meadowhall        Saturday 16 November 2013        12pm-8pm                    IceSheffield, Coleridge Road, Sheffield S9 5DA

Barnsley               Saturday 2 November 2013         10am-5pm                              Barnsley Town Hall, Church Street, Barnsley S70 2PA

 

 

 

Public Consultation on HS2 Proposed Route

The Government launched the public consultation on the HS2 proposed route on 17 July.  The consultation will close at 5pm on 31 January 2014.

It is important that as many people as possible respond to the consultation.

You can find more information about how to do this by clicking on the following link:

HS2 Phase Two Route Public Consultation

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natascha Engel MP responds to consultation on Exceptional Hardship Compensation Scheme

HS2 Exceptional Hardship Scheme Consultation

Response from Natascha Engel MP

Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire

Introduction

 As the Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire, three locations within my constituency are directly affected by the proposed HS2 route.  It would have been reasonable to expect that before the announcement on 28 January 2013 that residents in these communities would have been consulted. The Government, together with HS2 Ltd failed to do this. Following the announcement some residents received letters about the potential impact upon their property, others did not. In fact the use of outdated maps meant that in one location approximately thirty homes were not even aware they would be directly affected. The Government and HS2 should have worked more closely with local communities about the project before unveiling any proposed route. It is difficult to understand how anyone can respond to something they have little or no information about.  The questions in the consultation document are closed and how can anyone know if they qualify for compensation until they know exactly where the line is going.

I am making this contribution to the consultation on behalf of the many constituents I have who are directly or indirectly affected by the proposed HS2 route up to Leeds.

 “Do you agree or disagree that the Department for Transport should introduce an Exceptional Hardship Scheme for Phase Two ahead of decisions on how to proceed with the routes? What are your reasons?”

On the assumption that HS2 will move forward I agree that there should be an Exceptional Hardship Scheme in place.  Such a scheme however does not minimise the impact that has been felt by residents and businesses in the communities affected.

The consultation makes reference to the fact that there is no legal requirement by Government to introduce this Scheme but there is clearly a moral obligation to address the following.

  1. Blight to properties and business which was immediate following the announcement on 28 January 2013.
  2. Properties that have been devalued and are now unsellable.
  3. People who are in a property trap through blight imposed upon them which is unfair and unjust and takes away the freedom to move.
  4. Businesses working on advance bookings that have seen an immediate decline and/or cancellation of existing bookings because of future uncertainty.
  5. The scheme should be in place for the duration of the project.

“Do you agree or disagree with the proposed criteria underpinning the Exceptional Hardship Scheme for Phase Two? What are your reasons? Please specify any alternative principles you would propose, including specific criteria for determining qualification for the scheme.”

 The criteria are too limited and restrictive and as a result will not help those seriously affected by the proposals.

1. All property should be included. It is unfair to exclude anyone who falls outside the criteria of residential, small business or agricultural unit owner-occupier, a mortgagee or the personal representative of a deceased person who had a qualifying interest at the time of death.

2.Tenants in rented property that is blighted should be compensated to reduce the financial burden of relocation.

3. Location of property affected by construction or operation is a criteria. How can there be a determination of location of property when no distance has been fixed from the initial preferred route to satisfy criteria and in reality it is not possible to fix this until the route is finalised?

4. How can an applicant assess the distance of their property from the proposed route when it has been admitted that maps used in North East Derbyshire were incorrect?

5. How can it be fair that an applicant in an affected area has to accept an offer of only 85% of market value from a potential purchaser when no compensation is being offered to make up the difference?

6. The criteria of no prior knowledge makes affected properties even less attractive to potential buyers.

7. The Exceptional Hardship Scheme should be available to anyone who wants to move and is unable to do so because of HS2.

8. The scheme provides that exceptional hardship cannot be predefined.  This makes the scheme uncertain and limited that it simply cannot be fair.

Alternatives:

1. Anyone who is faced with financial loss, either through property devaluation and/or relocation should be fully compensated.

2. The Exceptional Hardship criteria should include everyone wanting or needing to move.

3. Compensation should be paid to 100% of the blight free market value.  There should be no requirement for applicants to accept offers of only 85% of property value.

4. The criteria of prior knowledge should not exist where a property has been sold and purchased under existing market forces. This would provide certainty for prospective purchasers that in due course, if affected, they will be compensated.  It will also have the effect of keeping the property market moving in blighted areas.

5. Interim compensation should be afforded to properties deemed to be affected up until the route is safeguarded.

“Do you agree or disagree with the proposed process for operating the Exceptional Hardship Scheme for Phase Two? What are your reasons? Please specify any alternative arrangements which you would suggest.”

 I disagree with the proposed process.

1. HS2 Ltd would administer the scheme on behalf of the Secretary of State and a majority independent panel would be appointed by HS2 to consider applications.  Such a panel cannot be considered as independent when they clearly represent the interests of HS2 Limited.

2. The panel should be wholly independent and selected by an independent body.

3. Successful applicants should also be able to choose a Chartered Surveyor outside of the pool selected by Government if they so wish, with all costs being met by the Government.

4. Unsuccessful applicants should have a right of appeal to a further independent panel. There should also be an independent right of appeal for applicants who are unsuccessful in their initial application.

5. The five criteria set out to determine qualification for the Scheme is too broad. It is noted that consideration of any less than five would be at the discretion of the decision maker and would be considered under the process of extenuating circumstances.

In the interests of fairness and justice applications should be considered where applicants meet one or more of the five criteria.

Further clarification should be provided on the status of the decision maker so as to ensure independence from either Government or HS2 Ltd.

Natascha Engel MP

15 May 2013

Local MP Signals NO to HS2

Speaking in the Queen’s Speech debate in Parliament (15 May) Natascha Engel, Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire, set out her concerns about the Government’s economic growth strategy in relation to High Speed 2.

Natascha outlined her main concerns about how government policy has affected the daily lives of her constituents in Renishaw, Killamarsh and Staveley.

In her speech Natascha criticised the Government on their lack of consultation, the lack of any clear economic case for HS2 and the fact that almost £800m of taxpayers money has already been spent on a scheme that is not even off the ground.

Supporting Natascha Engel’s viewpoint on the lack of any economic case, the National Audit Office warned in a report published today that it hadreservations about the business case” and had also estimated a £3.3bn shortfall in funding.

Commenting Natascha said,

“The Government has shown a complete lack of understanding about people’s lives and communities that were blighted from the day the proposed route was published. Even though nothing will happen in North East Derbyshire for 20 years houses can’t be sold, businesses are affected and regeneration projects such as the Chesterfield Canal Trust are facing an uncertain future. It is not a case of not in my backyard but through the house and village in which people have lived for generations.  They do not benefit from HS2 and the train does not even stop in Derbyshire.”

Urging the Government to listen to her constituents Natascha said until this happened she would oppose plans for HS2.

To read Natascha Engel’s speech click  link the following: House of Commons Hansard Debates for 15 May 2013 (pt 0003) or read below.

QUEEN’S SPEECH DEBATE

HOUSE OF COMMONS

15 MAY 2013

5.28 pm

Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire) (Lab): It is a great pleasure for me to take part in this final day of the Queen’s Speech debate, and to talk about the Government’s plan for economic growth. I have serious concerns about their proposals for the big infrastructure project HS2, which will mean that high-speed trains will go through the northern part of my constituency, just south of Sheffield—through Staveley, Killamarsh and, in particular, the village of Renishaw.

My main objections are to the lack of information for, and consultation with, the people whom the project will affect; the lack of a coherent economic case beyond a vague promise to open up the regions; and the lack of any real information about that economic case, when £800 million of taxpayers’ money has already been spent on preparatory work, and preparation is currently being made, in the two Bills that are to come before Parliament, for the spending of at least a further £33 billion.

Some of the things I am most concerned about, however, are the complete lack of understanding about people’s lives and the communities in which they live, and the fact that regeneration projects were blighted on the very day the plans for the HS2 route were published. Even though nothing will happen in my part of Derbyshire for 20 years, people are already finding it almost impossible to sell their homes, and businesses are starting to suffer. The main business and employer in the village of Renishaw is a fabulous wedding venue for people all around south Yorkshire and northern Derbyshire. It is very famous and has been operating for many years. Even though it is 20 years before anything may or may not happen, people are already cancelling weddings there simply because of the uncertainty.

The Chesterfield canal project, which regenerates very poor parts of the constituency, has also been operating for decades. The HS2 tracks will go right over the canal, and any match funding raised for the development of the canal has already stopped. These are important economic regeneration projects that have been stopped in their tracks because of the publication of a train line route, which has not even been finalised yet, let alone built.

This is not a “not in my backyard” argument. The tracks will go right through families’ houses, and through villages in which people have lived for many generations. They will not benefit from HS2, as the train does not stop in Derbyshire, but the HS2 project will stop all the regeneration and economic gains we have been making since the closures in the coal and steel industry.

That is not the only thing that is of concern to me. This is feeding into a far wider political problem. We say we represent these people, but they say they are not being consulted and not being allowed to have a say. In fact, we are saying we know better than they do what is good for them, but in this case we do not. I urge the Government to consult, persuade and explain, and to listen to all these people whose lives we are proposing to destroy. Until we do so, I will oppose these plans.

Link to High Speed 2:  National Audit Office