MP calling for clarity over HS2 noise maps

Tony Baldry
Tony Baldry

BICESTER’S MP has written to transport minister Philip Hammond asking for answers over the potential noise created by HS2.

Worried constituents have contacted Mr Baldry with a range of concerns over the proposed high-speed line, including a lack of information over the noise created by 250mph trains.

In his letter sent on Friday last week, Mr Baldry said: ”The route of HS2 has substantially been altered with more tunnels and green tunnels.

“Will trains be able to travel at their full projected 250mph when travelling through these tunnels and green tunnels?”

Mr Baldry pointed out that Mr Hammond had told the Commons the HS2 noise contour maps would be published with the recently issued consultation documents, but these did not appear to be included in the final draft.

“I would be grateful to know when you will be publishing usable noise contour maps – as opposed to maps only focusing on dwellings that will be immediately impacted.

“This is important so that the public and constituents can see details of projected noise impact on their local communities and contribute to the consultation in a meaningful way,” said Mr Baldry.

So called ‘green’ tunnels are proposed as a way of preventing damage to beauty spots and important wildlife sites, by hiding the trains from view and limiting their noise above ground.

Mr Baldry said a number of questions were raised at HS2 seminars in September and October, which HS2 Ltd said would be answered in weeks.

He said a limited number of answers had been published in late February, which had not answered all the queries.

“I would be grateful to know when you intend to publish the full list of questions and give a date when answers will be provided by HS2 Ltd,” said Mr Baldry.

He also asked Mr Hammond to speak to Chancellor George Osborne over the council tax banding of homes which had been blighted by the HS2 proposals.

“I understand that residents along the proposed route are finding property values reduce significantly but do not qualify for the exceptional hardship scheme, yet continue to pay Council Tax based on pre-HS2 blighted property values.

“Householders have been informed by local valuation officers that HS2 blight is not a basis for a reduction in Council Tax banding.

“Would it be possible for you to discuss with the Chancellor to see what can be done to re-band houses impacted by the proposed HS2 route?”

Mr Baldry also queried the projected energy consumption of the HS2 trains, based on the understanding that trains will use twice the power when travelling through tunnels than in the open air.

Earlier last week, Mr Baldry asked Mr Hammond whether the HS2 public consultation documents would be accessible to people with disabilities.

Responding to the question in the Commons, Mr Hammond said consultation materials had been published in a usable and accessible way to the widest possible audience, regardless of disability, capability or technology.

He said HS2 publicity events are due to be held at around 30 locations between London and the West Midlands, and that venues had been selected with public transport and disability in mind.

Roadshows start next month, visiting Aylesbury on May 10 and 11 and Calvert Green on May 26.