First steps towards building high speed link have started

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THE first step towards building the controversial high speed link between London and Birmingham is due to start shortly.

HS2 Ltd is to start environment and engineering survey work along the planned route and has started contacting landowners in a bid to reach an ‘access to private land agreement’ with them.

Site visits are being arranged with local landowners.

Alison Munro, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, said: “I’m very pleased we are able to get going with the next key stage of our work assessing – in much greater detail than we have been able to do up till now – the potential impact of the HS2 proposals on local sites.

“We hope to develop close working partnerships with those affected by the new line and this licensing arrangement is an important step in that direction.”

The ecology surveys will initially identify plants, animals and habitats, then, if necessary, HS2 Ltd will carry out further detailed investigation for specific species.

This could include collating bird numbers and their movements, badger monitoring, reptile surveys and studies of dormice.

As the project progresses the company’s engineers and environmental specialists will also investigate ground condition and physical features, and take measurements.

The National Farmers Union and the Country Land and Business Association have signed up to a voluntary agreement that sets out the process for contacting land owners to discuss gaining entry to their land. It also contains a fee structure and duty of care commitments.

Duty of care provision is a key part of the licence agreement.

It covers a range of issues, such as looking after livestock, maintaining fishing and sporting rights, as well as protecting hedges and trees.

The first batch of letters to landowners requesting a site visit has now gone out and work is expected to start in February.

>> The MEP for south east England, Daniel Hannan, will be holding an anti-HS2 meeting in East Claydon tomorrow, Saturday.

He will be meeting campaigners and local Conservatives between 6pm and 8pm. Drinks will be served. Anyone wanting to come should email Evelyn Joy on agent@buckinghamcca.co.uk. There will be a £5 entry fee to cover costs.