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House of Commons Hansard
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Railways: Construction
25 March 2010
Volume 508
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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport for what reasons no environment impact assessment was produced ahead of the consultation on the High Speed Two Exceptional Hardship Schemes; and if he will make a statement. [324255]

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The proposed Exceptional Hardship Scheme sets out proposals to help certain home-owners who may be affected by blight following publication of the Government’s response to HS2 Ltd’.s recommendations. The scheme is not a “project” for the purposes of Council Directive 1985/337/EEC on the assessment of effects of certain public and private projects on the environment. Accordingly, no environmental impact assessment is required.

If a decision is taken to proceed with high speed rail, the appropriate environmental assessment would form part of any preparations for the introduction of a Hybrid Bill.

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport for what reasons Buckinghamshire county council has not been included on the list of consultees for the consultation on the High Speed Two Exceptional Hardship Scheme. [324256]

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Buckinghamshire county council is regarded as a consultee. The leader and chief executive were sent copies of all the relevant materials following the Statement on high speed rail by the Secretary for State for Transport. Any individual or organisation can request copies of and respond to the Exceptional Hardship Scheme consultation. Copies are available from DFT Publications at

www.dft.gov.uk/foi/dftps/howtoobtaindftpublications/form

or telephone 0300 123 1102.

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport on what date his Department plans to respond to the participants in the consultation on the High Speed Two Exceptional Hardship Scheme. [324257]

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The consultation closes on 20 May 2010. The Government recognise the importance to affected property owners of introducing the scheme, should they decide to do so, as quickly as is practicable. We would expect this to be in June.

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what meetings (a) he, (b) Ministers in his Department and (c) his officials have had with interested parties on the three alternative routes for High Speed Two through the Chilterns; what the (i) purpose and (ii) outcome was of each such meeting; and if he will place a copy of the minutes of each such meeting in the Library. [324258]

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“High Speed Rail” was published on 11 March 2010. Prior to this Ministers and officials in the Department held no meetings with interested parties outside the Government at which HS2 Ltd. proposed routes from London to the West Midlands were discussed. Following the publication of the Command Paper, the Secretary of State for Transport, has held meetings with various hon. Members, and other stakeholders, to discuss high speed rail in general and/or in relation to constituency or local interests.

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To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what advice he has (a) sought and (b) received on the compatibility of the conduct of his Department's High Speed Two Exceptional Hardship Scheme consultation with guidance on the conduct of consultations during an election period. [324601]

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The Department consulted the HM Government “Code of Practice on Consultation”, which recommends that consultations should not generally be launched during election periods. The consultation on the Exceptional Hardship Scheme was launched on 11 March, while Parliament was sitting. The Government recognise the importance to affected property owners of introducing the scheme, should they decide to do so, as quickly as is practicable. The timing of the launch was determined accordingly. In addition, the duration of the consultation was shortened—to 10 weeks instead of the recommended 12—for the same reason.