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Author Topic: Portishead Line reopening for passengers - ongoing discussion  (Read 319396 times)
chuffed
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« Reply #945 on: April 19, 2022, 06:36:39 pm »

I have had an email from Dr Liam Fox MP (Member of Parliament) telling me that the planning issues referred to in the DCO (Driver Controlled Operation) have been resolved. The financial issue is an extra £13  million that needs to be found between the Dft  North Somerset and WECA» (West of England Combined Authority - about) in the next 10 months.
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infoman
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« Reply #946 on: April 19, 2022, 06:44:50 pm »

ITV west reporting live from Portishead rail liine on tuesday, available on plus approx 19:05pm
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stuving
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« Reply #947 on: April 19, 2022, 06:45:23 pm »

I have had an email from Dr Liam Fox MPtelling me that the planning issues referred to in the DCO (Driver Controlled Operation) have been resolved. The financial issue is an extra £13  million that needs to be found between the Dft  North Somerset and WECA» (West of England Combined Authority - about) in the next 10 months.

Is funding really a relevant consideration for a planing decision? Complete lack of it, or any likelihood of it being found, might be grounds for not even starting the DCO process. But we're a long way past that now.

And what is on the inspectorate's site is different:
Quote
The Secretary of State for Transport is minded to approve this application subject to further information from the Applicant (and subsequently from Interested Parties).

    Draft Development Consent Order (PDF, 2 MB)
    Draft Habitats Regulation Assessment (PDF, 733 KB)
    Examining Authority’s Recommendation (PDF, 7 MB)

To allow time for the Applicant to submit further information by 30 November 2022 and to allow for consultation on the further information with Interested Parties, the Secretary of State has set a new deadline of 19 February 2023 for the decision on this application. The Secretary of State has asked the Planning Inspectorate to facilitate the consultation process via the project page of the National Infrastructure Planning website.

That written statement looks to me like it was cobbled together in a hurry - so the "7 months" (which you'd expect to be "seven months") was worked out by spotting the 19th July 2021 in the text, and mistaking it for 2022 ... and not proof reading it!
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stuving
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« Reply #948 on: April 19, 2022, 06:56:08 pm »

Further to the above, those documents can be seen via live links in that page, or here:

    Draft Development Consent Order (PDF, 2 MB)
    Draft Habitats Regulation Assessment (PDF, 733 KB)
    Examining Authority’s Recommendation (PDF, 7 MB)

The third of those is the original inspectors' report of July 2021, the other two are dated today (and obviously not finalised).
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« Reply #949 on: April 19, 2022, 07:40:16 pm »

I have had an email from Dr Liam Fox MP (Member of Parliament) telling me that the planning issues referred to in the DCO (Driver Controlled Operation) have been resolved. The financial issue is an extra £13  million that needs to be found between the Dft  North Somerset and WECA» (West of England Combined Authority - about) in the next 10 months.
FOSBR (Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways) have posted something on Facebook: not sure if it is the same text as the email to you but, for reference I have attached it to this post.

Dave
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #950 on: April 19, 2022, 08:31:04 pm »

I think Liam Fox has sent out the same email to all interested parties.
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grahame
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« Reply #951 on: April 19, 2022, 08:47:27 pm »

Looking for the text of Dr Fox's letter today (but not yet Google indexed?) I came across this from last November:

Quote
For example, at a practical level, delays beyond 14 January would result in key ecology windows being missed, with a net programme impact of at least 12 months. We can control a lot of things in North Somerset, but the calendar is not one of them. It has been assessed that the impact on cost beyond 14 January 2022 will be in the order of an additional £13 million at minimum—an unacceptable figure for the project to bear. The loss of £13 million may be a rounding error on a weekly basis to big Government Departments, but on local government projects of this nature, it is a very large sum indeed.

Today I am asking the Minister to ensure that we receive a positive DCO (Driver Controlled Operation) decision by 14 January 2022 to facilitate the continuation of the project. Failing that, it is unavoidable that we will incur significant extra cost on further legal and consultancy support, and difficulties with practical issues such as the manual clearance of vegetation over the winter—again, something over which we have no control. Although it is clear that the Government have some flexibility in the timetable that they impose on the project, there is, I am afraid, no flexibility in nature’s season.

This scheme fits into every aspect of current Government policy, from environmental benefits to improved public transport and increased economic opportunity. Although we are tantalisingly close to finally getting delivery of a scheme that is supported across the whole community and from every aspect of political opinion, we are still not quite there. I understand that this is a live planning decision and that the Minister may be limited in what he can legally tell us today, but knowing him as I do, I trust that he will sense the frustration that many of us feel—very much including myself—and will undertake to get us full and rapid answers to the reasonable questions that we are currently asking.

Am I reading it right that the £13 million shortfall that's blamed for today's delay is the extra sum needed because the decision was not made in January?

If the £13 million is found by next February, how much extra will be needed by then, and will the DCO be belayed again while that further extra funding is sought?

Are there people in high places who really don't want this to happen at all?
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TonyK
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« Reply #952 on: April 19, 2022, 09:08:30 pm »


If the £13 million is found by next February, how much extra will be needed by then, and will the DCO (Driver Controlled Operation) be belayed again while that further extra funding is sought?

Are there people in high places who really don't want this to happen at all?

The very thought on my mind too. This is becoming a job creation scheme for the financial and consultancy industries, instead of a railway.
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Now, please!
chuffed
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« Reply #953 on: April 20, 2022, 09:41:23 am »

It beggars belief that the same Dft that 'gave' North Somerset 147 million last week to improve BUS services, is now quibbling with North Somerset and WECA» (West of England Combined Authority - about) over a 'piffling' 13 million that would finally lead to the DCO (Driver Controlled Operation) being granted. Someone really needs to step in and knock some heads together at the absurdity of it all.

Never in the history of rail reopenings,has so much been surveyed,written about (6.3km at the last count), spoken about, has had so much time,money, effort spent on it and so many experts and consultants been employed, retained, sacked and rehired, for so little result.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2022, 10:15:17 am by chuffed » Logged
johnneyw
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« Reply #954 on: April 20, 2022, 11:36:40 am »

Just a thought.  There's various elections coming up in May.  Wouldn't a timely announcement that all funding issues have been "resolved" just prior to people heading to the polling booths look good for the government?
Too cynical?
These are politicians we are talking about.
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stuving
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« Reply #955 on: April 20, 2022, 12:16:25 pm »

If DfT» (Department for Transport - about) genuinely are making granting the DCO (Driver Controlled Operation) conditional on full funding being in place, I think they may have got the law wrong.

There was a funding statement in the application, which was considered by the ExA. But this was a requirement only for the compulsory land acquisitions, and for no other reason. Thats is made clear in the ExA's final recommendations, in the funding statement itself, and even in the document index for the project.

The funding statement explains its existence by:
Quote
This statement explains the current and future funding position for MetroWest Phase 1 as required by Regulation 5(2)(h) of the Infrastructure Planning (Applications: Prescribed Forms and Procedure) Regulations 2009.

1.2 This statement also explains the background to and sources of funding for MetroWest Phase 1 and explains why the Applicant is satisfied that funding will be available to:
•meet all liabilities for land assembly; and
•allow the DCO Scheme (and the wider MetroWest Phase 1 scheme) to beconstructed
as required by paragraphs 9, 17 and 18 of the Guidance entitled "Planning Act 2008: Procedures for the compulsory acquisition of land", dated 3 September 2013 (CA Guidance). In preparing this Statement the Applicant has had full regard to the CA Guidance.

Regulation 5(2)(h) of the Infrastructure Planning (Applications: Prescribed Forms and Procedure) Regulations 2009 says:
Quote
(h)if the proposed order would authorise the compulsory acquisition of land or an interest in land or right over land, a statement of reasons and a statement to indicate how an order that contains the authorisation of compulsory acquisition is proposed to be funded;

Paragraphs 9, 17 and 18 of the Guidance entitled "Planning Act 2008: Procedures for the compulsory acquisition of land", dated 3 September 2013 (CA Guidance) say:
Quote
9.
The applicant must have a clear idea of how they intend to use the land which it is proposed to acquire. They should also be able to demonstrate that there is a reasonable prospect of the requisite funds for acquisition becoming available. Otherwise, it will be difficult to show conclusively that the compulsory acquisition of land meets the two conditions in section 122 (see paragraphs 11-13 below).
17.
Any application for a consent order authorising compulsory acquisition must be accompanied by a statement explaining how it will be funded. This statement should provide as much information as possible about the resource implications of both acquiring the land and implementing the project for which the land is required. It may be that the project is not intended to be independently financially viable, or that the details cannot be finalised until there is certainty about the assembly of the necessary land. In such instances, the applicant should provide an indication of how any potential shortfalls are intended to be met. This should include the degree to which other bodies (public or private sector) have agreed to make financial contributions or to underwrite the scheme, and on what basis such contributions or underwriting is to be made.
18.
The timing of the availability of the funding is also likely to be a relevant factor. Regulation 3(2) of the Infrastructure Planning (Miscellaneous Prescribed Provisions) Regulations 2010 allows for five years within which any notice to treat must be served, beginning on the date on which the order granting development consent is made, though the Secretary of State does have the discretion to make a different provision in an order granting development consent. Applicants should be able to demonstrate that adequate funding is likely to be available to enable the compulsory acquisition within the statutory period following the order being made, and that the resource implications of a possible acquisition resulting from a blight notice have been taken account of.

Note that the there is no requirement to demonstrate funding is in place for the full development cost. The compulsory acquisitions are given by the ExA as costing £5M, out of more than £100M in total. You'd have thought that even North Somerset's credit was good for that amount.

But then, if you read what's said on the Inspectorate's project page, they are asking NSDC for yet more details about something (not yet specified), and there will be responses following that.
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broadgage
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« Reply #956 on: April 21, 2022, 12:49:40 am »

Just a thought.  There's various elections coming up in May.  Wouldn't a timely announcement that all funding issues have been "resolved" just prior to people heading to the polling booths look good for the government?
Too cynical?
These are politicians we are talking about.

Too expensive.
Cheaper would be to announce some more studies, reviews and consultations.
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« Reply #957 on: April 24, 2022, 01:22:44 pm »

From New Civil Engineer

Extract below

Quote
...

The transport secretary is now looking for satisfactory evidence of the following:

  • An updated Funding Statement with information confirming the amount of the increased costs of the scheme
  • Information setting out the way in which the amount of the increased costs has been assessed so that he can be assured of the amount of these costs and their assessment
  • Information confirming how these costs will be met so that he can be satisfied that adequate funding will be available to meet these costs
  • Further information to enable him to confirm the updated costs of the scheme and to be satisfied that adequate funding will be available to meet these costs


.....
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #958 on: May 05, 2022, 09:35:25 am »

This was sent out from Liam Fox's office on 4th May 2022:

Quote

Dear All

I had a meeting with Wendy Morton, the Transport Minister, yesterday to discuss the current position on the Portishead Rail Link.  As you will know, I warned in the House of Commons in November 2021 that the potential delay caused by another environmental assessment being undertaken would result in additional costs in the budget.  The cost on completion was estimated at £210 million in December 2021, reduced to £163 million following mitigations.  The most recent delay has created a funding gap of £27 million.

I made it clear to the Minister that since this extra cost is a direct result of Department of Transport action, it would be completely unreasonable to ask North Somerset Council or the West of England Combined Authority to find the extra sum.  I  also pointed out to the Minister that the Portishead Railway project is consistent with the Government’s Levelling Up agenda, as it will increase the opportunities for those in higher unemployment areas in Bristol to find jobs in places like Portishead where we already have a labour shortage.

If the scheme is not put in place, further improvements in the road system will need to be undertaken, including  substantial work at Junction 19 and potentially another bridge being constructed.  The Minister gave a commitment that she would ask her officials to see where extra funding may be found, as we are both in agreement that the public finances are constrained post Pandemic, but that economic growth must be stimulated if we are to see the public finances improved.

I will provide further updates as soon as they are available.

Yours sincerely

LIAM FOX

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« Reply #959 on: May 31, 2022, 07:45:29 pm »

 Subject: FoSBR» (Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways - site) event to show support for Portishead rail re-opening - Saturday June 18th 11.15am in Pill
 

Dear Friend of Suburban Bristol Railways 

 

Friends of Suburban Bristol Railways is planning an event on Saturday June 18th at 11.15am, meeting in Pill, on the greenspace between Underbanks and Watch House Road. We hope you will be able to attend.   

 

We are concerned about the latest twists and turns in the saga of Portishead railway. This is in the context of delays to the other MetroWest schemes and extensive rail funding cuts imposed by the Department for Transport. 

 

We want to send a clear message to WECA» (West of England Combined Authority - about), the local authorities and government that we need the scheme to happen, along with the other parts of MetroWest. 

 

We have invited stakeholders and interested parties from North Somerset and Bristol, including councillors from the route, campaigners and MPs (Member of Parliament)

 

We will take some pictures for media and social media, and the event will last less than an hour. 

 

Please feel free to forward this invitation to other interested parties – better that people are invited twice rather than not at all. 

 

The X4 Excel bus between Bristol & Portishead stops near the Co-op on Heywood Road, which is a 5 minute walk from Underbanks.  First Bus timetables can be found below, but please catch an early bus as we have noticed some cancellations on this route in recent weeks.
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