In a cart-before-the-horse move typical of HS2 Ltd, Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin has claimed the proposed HS2 Phase 2 route between Fradley and Crewe through Staffordshire may change, at the same time as moving to prevent building development on the current proposed route. A nine week consultation will now take place, closing on 9th January 2015.
The safeguarding consultation is taking place despite the fact HS2 Ltd have still not published the results and their response to the main Phase 2 consultation, which concluded in January. In the case of Phase 1, results were published less than six months after the consultation, but it is now nine months since the Phase 2 consultation concluded.
Once the safeguarding consultation is concluded, the Secretary of State for Transport will have power of veto on any new planning applications in the safeguarded area, which is typically 60 metres from the centre-line between the proposed tracks. The land currently proposed for safeguarding may well increase, especially as it is clear that no additional land for the proposed Crewe HS2 station, expected to be located a mile or so south of the current station near Basford, has been identified for safeguarding.
In a statement to Patrick McLoughlin said:
“In Sir David’s [Higgins] HS2 Plus report of March 2014 he suggested opening the line to a new hub station in Crewe in 2027, 6 years earlier than planned. In response I commissioned HS2 Ltd to undertake a route consideration process, informed by feedback from consultation. While a decision has yet to be made on the Phase Two route, I can inform the House that the analysis we have undertaken to date, points towards an onward connection from HS2 Phase One through to Crewe and that it is therefore appropriate to consult on whether I should make safeguarding directions for that part of the route.”
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“It is unbelievable that Patrick McLoughlin is trying to make out that he hasn’t made a decision about the HS2 route to Crewe at the same time as starting the process to safeguard the route. I mean seriously, who is he trying to kid? The only way to look at those two irreconcilable statements is that Mr McLoughlin is either lying or knowingly throwing away taxpayers money, or maybe more likely, both.”
More information concerning the consultation can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/safeguarding-consultation-on-hs2-route-to-crewe-launched