I completely share the views of the vast majority of residents across the Aylesbury constituency that HS2 should be scrapped; as I stated from the very beginning of my election campaign, I do not believe we need this railway. It makes no sense economically, with a weak business case and spiralling construction costs. It makes no sense environmentally, with more than a hundred ancient woodlands, being destroyed for a line that will never be carbon neutral over the course of its 120 year lifespan. I remain absolutely convinced that the scheme will do enormous damage to our area with zero benefit to the people of Aylesbury and the nearby villages.
On behalf of residents and businesses affected, I have repeatedly challenged the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, and the HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson, about the relevance, value for money and environmental impact of HS2. I have put on record my opposition to this useless behemoth in parliamentary debates, I have lobbied the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the business case and I have taken my concerns directly to the Prime Minister on several occasions – both privately and publicly.
Despite this, the Government continues to believe that HS2 will still be relevant in the decades ahead, and has committed to the construction of the railway. In 2016, before my time as Member of Parliament, the House of Commons voted 10-1 in favour of the project at 3rd Reading and it is worth noting that the Liberal Democrats voted in support, as well as MPs from all other parties. Sadly, even now there is considerable cross-party support for the scheme in Parliament.
My office continues to push HS2 Ltd to ensure that proper mitigation is implemented now that construction work is underway. I have been working with groups across the constituency from Wendover to Fairford Leys and Stoke Mandeville, attending meetings to hear their concerns. In particular, I have lobbied hard for improvements to noise mitigation in Wendover following the government’s refusal to construct a bored mined tunnel, and I have ensured compensation has been paid to landowners who had been subjected to extraordinary delays and appalling treatment.
I am absolutely determined to hold HS2 Ltd’s feet to the fire to ensure they live up to their pledge to be good neighbours: like you, I want to see action, not just words. I will continue to insist that local people are treated with consideration and respect for as long as this white elephant project lumbers on.
- Raising individual constituents’ concerns with HS2 Ltd, its contractors and the Department for Transport. These range from delays in receiving compensation, to lack of community engagement, and environmental and ecological damage.
- Since Rob’s election, the office has responded to over 650 individual concerns regarding HS2’s behaviour.
- The office has a regular call with HS2 Ltd once a month to discuss outstanding concerns and get information for constituents.
- Rob has raised HS2 15 times in the Chamber and has asked the Prime Minister two questions on the floor of the House.
Actions taken by Rob and his team:
17 October - Meeting the Transport Secretary Mark Harper to urge money from HS2's Phase II be diverted to link roads
6 October - Welcomed the cancellation of HS2 Phase II and called for additional money to be given to Aylesbury
18 September - Raised HS2's poor behaviour in Walton Court
24 February - Raised HS2 Ltd's behaviour in the Chamber when discussing the need for fair compensation for infrastructure; you can view the speech here.
16 January - Request for a meeting with the Environment Agency to discuss concerns about the impact of construction on groundwater and water catchment
11 January - Request for a meeting with Rail Minister for assurances that local agencies will receive the information needed to properly assess the impact of construction on the Coombe Hill aquifer and wider water catchment area
13 December - Meeting with Sir Mark Worthington, HS2 Independent Construction Commissioner, and Lord Jackson, HS2 Independent Residents' Commissioner to discuss continued difficulties around noise.
10 November - My office attended a meeting with Wendover HS2, the Environment Agency, Bucks Councillors and Wendover Parish Council with the HS2 Commissioners, Sir Mark Worthington and Stewart Jackson.
17 August - Wrote to the HS2 Minister regarding HS2 Ltd's failure to properly address concerns about noise pollution in Wendover.
16 May - Provided evidence to the Public Accounts Committee for their HS2 update, leading to questions from Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown on land take and unnecessary legal action by HS2 Ltd.
5 April - Meeting with Rohan Perrin, a senior director at HS2 Ltd and an affected landowner.
22 February - Wrote to the HS2 Minister, Andrew Stephenson, calling for further noise mitigation for Wendover.
4 January - Meeting with Wendover Parish Council to discuss additional mitigation options for the village.
16 December - Question to the HS2 minister over the proposed lorry routes.
10 December - Walkabout with Stoke Mandeville Parish Council concerning the neighbourhood plan and impact of HS2 on the village.
13 September - Spoke on behalf of residents and businesses in a Westminster Hall debate on HS2. More details here.
23 July - HS2 minister visits the constituency at Rob's invitation. More details here.
15 June - Meeting with the Environment Agency to discuss their powers in relation to holding HS2 accountable for environmental damage.
19 March - Meeting with Wendover HS2, Wendover Parish Council and Wendover Buckinghamshire Councillors to discuss issues affecting Wendover.
29 January - Meeting with Wendover Parish Council to update them on our work on HS2 issues
8 January - Meeting with Wendover HS2 to discuss mitigation schemes for Wendover
19 November - Letter to the HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson MP concerning the use of Transport and Works Act Orders on the phase one route, and the possible impact on Wendover: https://www.robbutler.org.uk/news/rob-butler-writes-hs2-minister
17 October - Attended the Stop HS2 protest on the A418 near Hartwell.
14 October – Meeting with Andrew Stephenson (HS2 Minister) and Mark Thurston (HS2 CEO), again called for the project to be reassessed given the cost overruns and completely changed environment. Stressed to Mark Thurston the concerns regarding ecological damage, specifically the removal of species without the correct licence.
30 September – Meeting with Wendover Parish Council working group
30 September – PMQ asking for the Wendover Mined Tunnel: https://www.robbutler.org.uk/news/rob-questions-prime-minister-impact-hs2-wendover
23 September – Meeting with Wendover HS2 to discuss noise mitigation.
11 September – Issued a press release and letter to HS2 concerning the unacceptable delays on the A418 Oxford Road.
18 August –Letter containing all correspondence between Mr Butler and the Department for Transport concerning the mined tunnel. (Published 8th Sept) https://www.robbutler.org.uk/news/letter-wendover-parish-councillors-regarding-mined-tunnel-proposal
18 July – ‘frank and constructive’ Zoom meeting with Mark Thurston discussing numerous topics concerning HS2’s behaviour across the constituency.
3 June – Meeting with Wendover HS2 and representatives of Wendover Parish Council
27 May – Virtual meeting with Wendover Cricket Club.
19 May – Asked Grant Shapps why HS2 is still going ahead when coronavirus is costing the country billions of pounds and the way we work has changed dramatically
15 April – Bucks MPs issued a joint statement following DFT issuing Notice to Proceed with construction of Phase 1
11 May – Spoke to Andrew Stephenson about individuals constituents’ concerns
5 May – Met Andrew Stephenson to tell him we need a better deal across the constituency
25 March – Asked a PMQ about contractors following PHE social distancing advice
23 March – Sent letter to HS2 CEO, Mark Thurston about contractors failing to comply with social distancing
27 February – Asked a parliamentary question to the Paymaster General about HS2 representing good value for money for taxpayers https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-02-27/debates/886034F0-D6E7-4D30-AC73-3FFD762C2C95/details#contribution-F9AA6AF2-0B38-4F3C-A651-B73E3AA72883
18 February – Receives answer to written Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps he is taking to ensure that valid compensation claims by (a) residents and (b) businesses are paid on time and in full by HS2 Ltd. https://members.parliament.uk/member/4745/writtenquestions#expand-1177741
18 February - Received answer to written Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment he has made of the hydrological effect of the construction of the green tunnel at Wendover on the potential risk of flooding in Aylesbury. https://members.parliament.uk/member/4745/writtenquestions#expand-1177741
18 February – Received answer to written Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of the proposals for a mined tunnel in Wendover; and if he will publish the results of that assessment. https://members.parliament.uk/member/4745/writtenquestions#expand-1177741
13 February – Raised the decision to proceed with HS2 in Business Question calling for a statement from the Government on compensation and mitigation scheme https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-02-13/debates/C030084B-162D-4D94-853B-20409FFACFBF/details#contribution-004C3250-65DE-4A32-A5F5-79D598941743
9 February – Attended HS2 engagement event in Fairford Leys, following interventions by Rob to ensure it would go ahead following numerous cancellations by HS2.
6 February – Raised the archaeological works at St Mary’s, Stoke Mandeville with the Church Commissioner, Andrew Selous: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-02-06/debates/DAD8FB19-BDAA-46BC-A53B-EE7583B30B05/details
5 February – Attended and spoke at a meeting with the Prime Minister calling for HS2 to be scrapped along with other members of the HS2 Review Group.
27 January – Received answer to written Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether staff employed by the Oakervee Review secretariat were seconded from (a) his Department, (a) other Government Departments and (c) executive agencies. https://members.parliament.uk/member/4745/writtenquestions
23 January – Took part in a joint video by conservative colleagues part of the HS2 Review Group calling for HS2’s budget to be diverted to smaller projects including solving traffic congestion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=ek-8wMXPzIc
21 January – Received answer to written Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the conclusions of the Oakervee review into HS2 were reached following a full debate and voting by all members of the review panel.
17 January – Filmed a segment for the TPA on why HS2 should be scrapped and the money diverted to other projects in the North and Midlands.
10 January – Meeting with Wendover HS2 Group (mined tunnel briefing)
8 January – Spoke to then-Chancellor Sajid Javid about why we need to stop HS2
7 January – Attended a briefing organised by the Taxpayer’s Alliance about alternatives to HS2
4 January – Attended the Stop HS2 Street stall in Wendover and spoke with residents affected by the construction of the line.
20 December – Joined the HS2 Review Group of Conservative MPs and signed an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for HS2 to be scrapped https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/12/21/dozens-mps-including-new-northern-representatives-sign-joint/