High Speed Rail (HS2)
HS2 through Buckinghamshire
High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) is a Government project to build a high-speed railway linking London to the Midlands and the North of England. Originally planned to link London to Manchester and Leeds, via Birmingham it has been scaled down again by the Government. The eastern leg of line was scrapped first and the link from Manchester to Leeds downgraded in 2021. Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, announced at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2023 that HS2 Phase 2, the leg from Birmingham to Manchester is now also cancelled.
- Phase 1 of the route passes through about 60 kilometres from the south east of Buckinghamshire up to the north west of the county
- Phase 2a extends the route to Crewe
- HS2 will now stop at Birmingham
The HS2 Rail Act 2017 gives the Secretary of State for Transport wide ranging powers and granted Outline Planning Permission. Although HS2 Limited will apply for consents and “approvals” from Buckinghamshire Council, if we do not respond within specified timescales approval is deemed to be granted. Approval is not to be unreasonably withheld as described in the Act. It is important to understand that this Act means that we have little or no power to change aspects of the scheme.
The video produced by the Sunday Times called HS2: Living in Britain's biggest building site | Behind The Story, shows the impact of the building works around Calvert in the north of the county. It shows drone footage of the scale of the work and moving stories from affected residents.
The Chiltern Society have put together a virtual fly-through along whole of the HS2 route across the Chilterns and South Buckinghamshire. The video produced by Keith Hoffmeister of The Chiltern Society, shows the HS2 construction route and its impact on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The footage shown was filmed during a light aircraft flight. Reproduced with permission The Chiltern Society.
If you wish to ask about HS2 work or make a complaint you should contact HS2’s helpdesk first. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Contact HS2 by:
HS2 - our position
HS2 is the biggest infrastructure project in a generation. Its construction will have a major impact on the lives, communities and countryside of Buckinghamshire for the next 10 years and more. It is vital that we continue to monitor HS2 and make sure that it affects Buckinghamshire as little as possible.
In April 2019, Councillors at Buckinghamshire County Council voted to ask the Government to stop HS2 works. Unfortunately, a year later the Government gave HS2 permission to continue. The council’s priorities have changed to include:
- reduce the effects of the railway on the environment and the communities
- stand up for the community
- ensuring community safety
- increase the opportunities to gain economic benefit
- consider planning and highways applications
- hold HS2 Limited to account during the building phase
Whilst we are no longer able to protest against HS2, we respect the right of those who wish to lawfully and safely protest. Such activity is a police matter, and we expect HS2 to treat people with sensitivity.
Roadworks, traffic and construction updates
Roadworks and traffic
HS2 produces traffic information guides detailing how construction traffic is going to be managed whilst the railway is built. These guides include combined traffic numbers for the HS2 contractors EKFB and Align showing volumes of traffic you can expect in your local road network. They also show control measures HS2 have in place for managing the traffic on their designated construction routes.
HS2 and its contractors hold information events (online during covid-19) for local residents. Visit HS2 Local community for further information.
We advise you when Schedule 17 applications have been submitted by HS2. We do not consult residents about these as deemed planning consent has already been granted by the HS2 Act of Parliament. Notifications of applications are sent to neighbours near the application site.
Some additional works are not covered by the HS2 Act of Parliament and require planning permission. When these applications are received, we consult neighbours in the usual way.
To read about the updates on HS2 in Buckinghamshire, you can view the latest newsletter.
Email us to sign up to receive our HS2 newsletters in future or to request a Word document version of the newsletter: [email protected].
HS2 construction works
HS2 tunnelling - impact on aquafer and chalk streams
The council and the Chilterns Conservation Board have serious concerns about the impacts of HS2’s tunnelling work on the aquafer and the chalk streams like the River Misbourne.
A joint position statement (PDF, 255 KB) was issued by the council and the Chilterns Conservation Board with a series of questions for HS2 Limited. The aim was to get reassurance from HS2 Limited that the worst-case scenarios from the tunnelling had been considered. We have received some responses from HS2, but we are still waiting for clarification on several points and will consider our response once these have been received.
We are now concentrating on reducing the effects of HS2 on the environment and our communities, ensuring safety, increasing opportunities for economic benefit, considering planning and highways applications and holding HS2 to account.
Community and business funds
A £40m fund has been set up by HS2 to bring any benefit to the disrupted communities along Phase 1 of the route. This includes the Community and the Environment Fund (CEF) and the Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF). You can apply or see details of local projects that have already been funded by South of England Grants - Groundwork.
Road Safety Fund
We have been allocated £3.95 million as part of the HS2 Road Safety Fund (RSF). This is designed to create a legacy of road safety improvements for communities along the HS2 route that have been or will be impacted by the HS2 construction. Find out more about the Road Safety Fund and how to apply.
HS2 mobile CCTV cameras
In response to residents' concern about the volume of HS2 traffic, we have purchased 3 mobile CCTV cameras. These will be used to monitor the traffic caused by HS2 construction as well as the effect it has on our roads over the next few years. Two of these have been funded by HS2 and the third by the HS2 Road Safety Fund.
The CCTV cameras will be placed in locations affected by HS2 works where:
- there are not currently fixed CCTV cameras
- residents have reported disruption to road users and the community
- there are concerns about road safety
The CCTV cameras are expected to remain at each site for approximately 8 weeks. During this time, footage will be reviewed to highlight any issues which will then be discussed with HS2 ltd and their sub-contractors. Using this information we will see what measures can be put in place to reduce safety concerns and minimise disruption to road users and residents.
The deployment of these cameras will be focused on traffic management and road safety issues relating to HS2 construction traffic. CCTV footage will be sampled and reviewed as required but the cameras will not be used to monitor sites 24/7.
Any queries or concerns regarding the use of CCTV should be sent by email to [email protected]
You can also propose a location which would benefit from the placement of a mobile CCTV camera using our online form below. Note that suggestions will only be considered where there is evidence of disruption caused by HS2 construction works.
The HS2 Act of Parliament has given HS2 Limited the powers to build Phase 1 of the network and power to build and maintain HS2 and associated works. This includes:
- compulsory acquire the land required
- affect or change public rights of way, including stopping-up, or diversion of highways and waterways either temporarily or permanently
- modify buildings or structures belonging to for example utility companies
- carry out work on listed buildings and demolish buildings in conservation areas
- carry out work to protect buildings and third-party infrastructure
The HS2 Act also grants the necessary changes to existing laws to help with the building and running of Phase 1 of HS2.
The HS2 Act of Parliament allows building to start within 10 years of the Act having been passed in February 2017. The legislation allows amendments made as a result of petitions to Parliament. These are formal commitments called “Undertakings” or “Assurances” which must be delivered by HS2. They are all included on the Register of Undertakings and Assurances.
Since being granted the HS2 Act, HS2 Limited have appointed contractors to provide early works and main works for the railway. In Buckinghamshire, the contractors Fusion JV are conducting the early works and Eiffage Kier Ferrovial BAM (EKFB) and Align, the main works.
Planning Schedule 17 submissions
The HS2 Act has already granted deemed planning permission for the proposed work. Requests for approval under Schedule 17 are not the same as planning applications. Schedule 17 of the HS2 Act sets out the conditions of the deemed planning permission and the lorry routes. This is a process for the approval of certain matters relating to the design and construction of the railway. It requires the organisation who are undertaking the works to seek approval from the relevant authority, in this case Buckinghamshire Council. The Council cannot refuse work that has been permitted by the HS2 Act but can instead refuse the details of those works.
These matters are:
- building of permanent, above-ground buildings
- other construction works such as earthworks, road vehicle parks, screens, transformers
- telecommunications masts, pedestrian accesses, fencing/walls, lighting
- construction camps
- road transport routes to be used by large goods vehicles
- bringing into use (to ensure that appropriate mitigation has been included)
- site restoration
All decisions on Schedule 17 submissions have been delegated to the relevant Council officials. However, as a Member led organisation Members may wish officers not to exercise their delegated powers.
There are limited grounds under Section 17 that we can refuse to approve or attach conditions to submissions. For example, with building works these grounds include that the design or external appearance of building ought to be modified to preserve the local environment or local amenity or to prevent and reduce prejudicial effects on road safety or the free flow of traffic in the area or to preserve a site of archaeological or historical interest or nature conservation value. For the Council to request modifications like these it would be necessary for us to show that such a modification would be reasonable and would not unduly add to the cost of the HS2 Phase One programme or conflict with the operational requirements of the railway.
Lorry route Schedule 17s
Approval by the Local Highway Authority (LHA) is required for construction routes where Large Goods Vehicles (LGV) over 7.5 tonnes movements are more than 24 a day (to or from the site.) The consenting authority is the one where the items are being transported to or from.
Like planning Schedule 17s, we have limited reasons to refuse but we can add conditions on relevant grounds to preserve the local environment or amenity, prevent and/or reduce the impact of road safety or the free flow of traffic or preserve a site of archaeological, historic or conservation interest.
Schedule 4: temporary highways works
HS2 temporary works include road closures, alterations and diversions of any highway. Examples of temporary works could include:
- temporary accesses
- site access signs
- details of traffic management (traffic lights, traffic calming)
- junction improvements
These temporary works can happen during the construction of the railway which may take up to 10 years in some cases.
If the works were included in the HS2 Act, then HS2 or their contractors will have to consult with Buckinghamshire Council. We have 3 working days to respond.
If the works were not included in the original plans, then HS2 would need to gain consent from the Council. We have 28 days to approve, and we cannot unreasonably withhold consent. The limited grounds that we have are to do with road safety and the free flow of traffic. If we do not respond within 28 days, then the application is treated as approved.
Schedule 4: permanent highways works
Permanent highways works may include new permanent accesses, construction or realignment of roads.
If the works were included in the HS2 Act then HS2 or their contractors need to seek approval within 28 days. If not on original plans then consent is needed (within 28 days.) Like the temporary works, if the Council does not respond in time it is treated as approved. We can only object on the grounds of local amenity, road safety or free flow of traffic. We can also request further, more detailed information.