HS2 Early Access Agreement for Surveys
HS2 are currently seeking permission from selected landowners in our area to undertake surveys as part of the next stage of the design process. Initial requests relate to ecology studies to identify the environmental effects of the proposed HS2 infrastructure.
They seek to secure access by way of a two year agreement for which they agree to pay an access fee (£1000 per site) and legal costs (up to £600), with provision for further payments if additional survey activities are necessary.
Under the recent legislation passed to facilitate HS2, we understand that HS2 have the right to undertake surveys on any land and property within 500m of the centre line of the track. Where consent is not forthcoming from landowners HS2 will obtain a warrant, in such cases the access fee won’t be paid. Some further information can be found in C14: Site Access For Surveys.
Certain criteria have been used by HS2 to identify the land and property they consider may need to be surveyed. For example sites containing ponds or lakes, hedges, woodland, scrubland or grassland, flowing water, rivers or ditches, and buildings or structures that may contain bats. Such sites have been identified primarily through the use of satellite imagery.
The environmental / ecology studies will in most cases cover a full 12 month period, on a sample basis. Some studies may be required in a particular season or at a particular time of day. Further surveys may also be required, for example in connection with heritage, water, sound, vibration, highways, utilities and agriculture.
Access Agreements and Surveys in our area are being coordinated by Ardent (1 Aire Street, Leeds – 0113 457 0089), with the ecology studies being undertaken by Arup.
The following statement was provided by our HS2 community engagement manager:
Some local people may have received a request from us to access their land for ecological surveys. At this stage, the only surveys that we are looking to do are non-invasive that will cause no more harm to a garden or field than someone walking across it. The main surveys are seeing whether there are birds nesting in trees and a survey of a pond or other water course/body, that’s carried out by dipping a plastic stick in it for a brief period (testing for evidence of newt DNA!). We are simply trying to understand where there is ecology that future surveys may need to take account of.
The teams carrying out the survey work are happy to be as flexible as possible about when they access the land, won’t need to be there for long, and to the typical garden or field there should be no damage at all.
Further details of the surveys have been provided by HS2: Early Access Agreement Surveys
For those receiving an access agreement that wish to seek independent legal advice, we encourage you to check that your solicitor has no connections to HS2 or its contractors.
One such firm is Blacks Solicitors:
Ian Errington Blacks Solicitors www.lawblacks.com 0113 207 0000
UPDATE – July 2018
HS2 are late starting many of the surveys and, given they intend to publish their environmental impact assessment in September, there is no way these studies will have been completed over a suitable time period or to the depth required. Corners are being cut with the process being rushed. There is clearly little interest in the results of the work – HS2 will press on regardless.
Many contractors are arriving to perform surveys without owners being notified in advance. The follow-up payments for these additional survey visits are also not being made. Check your bank account to ensure you receive the payments you are entitled too.