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Gillan: HS2 could affect up to 500 more residents
FIVE hundred more homes than first thought could be affected by building work on HS2 in the Chiltern district, it emerged this week.
Transport Minister Simon Burns said in a letter to Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan that more land in her constituency will be needed to enable the controversial high speed rail line to be built.
Mrs Gillan said she subsequently contacted the Department for Transport for more information and was told changes to the scheme could affect between 400 and 500 more properties than originally thought.
Mr Burns said the information came to light after work carried out by HS2 Ltd - the company in charge of the project - to help refine the design of the route before it is presented to Parliament.
In his letter he also stated the changes to the original proposals would "provide additional wildlife habitats" and "allow for the integration of vent shafts and other structures into the landscape".
Mrs Gillan said: "On receiving the letter from the Minister, I immediately contacted the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd to seek clarification on the matter.
"After speaking to an official at the DfT, I was informed that the changes will affect an extra 400 to 500 properties along the route. However, they could not give me any details on how many properties will be affected in my constituency or which areas of land are intended to be acquired.
"I have always campaigned for greater protection of the environment, ecology and mitigation so that if the project proceeds we are best protected from the impacts of HS2. However, to decide merely a few weeks before the Bill for this project is scheduled to enter Parliament that extra land is now needed is incompetent and undermines confidence in HS2 Ltd and its organisation.
"This cavalier attitude means that hundreds more property owners will be learning for the first time of the impact that the project will have on their properties and land at the eleventh hour."
Mr Burns said in the letter: "Following some recent fieldwork, HS2 Ltd has identified land that we may need to acquire on either a temporary or permanent basis in your constituency.
"We are writing to your constituents who may be directly affected and our representatives will be contacting the relevant parties directly."
He added affected landowners would be able to apply for compensation but he admitted: "We appreciate this is the first time many of these landowners have been contacted about the HS2 project."
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