High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) is an ambitious, yet controversial, project to build a high-speed rail line to connect some of the country's largest cities. This briefing provides an overview of the project’s progress and some of the key issues and arguments for and against HS2.
When was it debated?
Tuesday 23 June 2015; it was agreed by the House of Commons without a vote.
What is it?
This is the third round of instructions to the HS2 Select Committee and the second set of what are called ‘additional provisions’. The Committee explains:
As members of that Select Committee we have had the power to amend the Bill; by limiting the powers it gives and by inserting new powers. Where the latter amendments might themselves cause particular adverse effect, they can be petitioned against. So far there has been one round of such ‘additional provisions’ to the Bill, in that case initiated by its Promoter (the Department for Transport) and largely concerned with reaching accommodation with petitioners from various parts of the line. Another round, which will include some of the matters on which we have made suggestions or recommendations, is expected after the general election. [HC 338, para 8]
In effect, the instruction will allow the Committee to consider amendments to various parts of the HS2 scheme, brought forward by the Promoter (the Department for Transport/HS2 Ltd.).
Those affected will be able to petition against these amendments, as they have been able to do against the initial scheme. The Committee will hear those petitions and then decide whether the amendments should be added to the Bill.
What parts of the route will be affected?
In summary, it gives the Committee the power to consider amendments relating to:
- specific engineering/construction issues at specific sites in Staffordshire, Buckinghamshire (Slough), and Old Oak Common;
- the accommodation of requirements of landowners and occupiers in the London Boroughs of Brent and Ealing, the City of Birmingham, and specific parts of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull;
- changes to the design of the works authorised by the Bill in the London Boroughs of Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham and Hillingdon and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, the City of Birmingham, and specific parts of Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, and the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull;
- supplementary environmental information provided in relation to matters which do not require an extension of the powers of the Bill to construct works or acquire land; and
- amendments for purposes connected with any of the matters mentioned above.
What are the cost implications?
No cost data has yet been published. However, in the House on 23 June the Minister said: “The changes in total will not increase the overall project budget or target price for phase 1. They result in modest additional costs, but they will be accommodated within the contingency, which is provided for that very purpose”. [c815]
Has this happened before?
Yes – and it will likely happen again as the Committee continues to consider the route.
The second instruction to the Committee – and first set of additional provisions – was debated in the House of Commons on 9 September 2014. The amendments considered under these additional provisions were “minor [in] nature [… and] mainly changes to access tracks required to construct or maintain the railway and refinements to National Grid’s requirements for electricity wire diversions”.
What happens next?
The final document outlining the proposed amendments to the scheme will be published on 13 July. This is the document on which any submissions on the petitioning process can be made. In addition, a supplementary environmental statement will also be deposited. The Minister explained what happens then:
As required by Standing Orders, notices in national and local newspapers will be published immediately after deposit, alerting the public to these changes and the opportunity to feed into the process by petitioning or responding to the consultation, as appropriate. In addition, HS2 Ltd will be writing to those near the proposed changes to highlight the consultation. Once the notices have appeared, a public consultation on the environmental statement lasting 42 days, in accordance with Standing Orders, will commence. This is planned to run from Friday 17 July to Friday 28 August. As with the main environmental statement consultation at the time of Bill deposit, the responses to the consultation will be analysed by Parliament’s independent assessor and the assessor’s report will be tabled in the House ahead of Third Reading. [23 June, c816]
Department for Transport, “Update to legislation brings HS2 one step closer to construction”, 17 June 2015
HS2 Select Committee, First Special Report of Session 2014–15, HC 338, 26 March 2015
Department for Transport, Promoter’s Response to the Select Committee’s First Special Report of Session 2014-15, 4 June 2015
HC Library, Railways: HS2 Phase 1, SN316, 19 February 2015
HC Library, High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill 2013-14, RP14-24, 22 April 2014
This paper focuses on the western leg of HS2 from Crewe to Manchester and the High Speed Rail (Crewe to Manchester) Bill, which would authorise it.
This page provides a summary of the competition to determine the location of the Great British Railway headquarters.