Yesterday, the Department for Transport announced that the latest set of amendments to the HS2 plans, or at least the boroughs and parishes in which they are located, will be debated in Parliament next Tuesday 23rd June 2015. Despite the DfT being keen to say the 120 changes, known as additional provisions, are due to ‘listening to communities’, they haven’t bothered to tell any of the communities the details of the changes, as the only place the plans can currently be found is in the House of Commons Vote Office.
Instead, all that has been released so far is a press release from the DfT that pulls out three examples whilst spinning its’ guts out. Transport Minister Robert Goodwill said:
“This motion is a major step forward both in terms of getting HS2 through Parliament and getting this vital railway built. The changes to the bill show the government is listening to communities along the HS2 route. By working together, we can ensure this vital railway is designed in the right way, so we have spades in the ground in 2017 as planned.”
The three known changes include a bit of tinkering around Old Oak Common and giving the village of Chipping Warden a by-pass, the case for which was enhanced by the fact HS2 Ltd intend to permanently close one of the roads into the village. The third set of known changes will come about in the Lichfield area, due to what was clearly a ‘quiet word’ from the Hybrid Bill Committee which saw HS2 Ltd suddenly decide to go under the A38 instead of over it about nine months ago.
Whilst the A38 area plans will almost certainly be better than what was originally proposed, it is still to be seen whether they will be any good, as HS2 Ltd haven’t bothered to tell the communities they are supposedly ‘working together’ with what the details of the changes actually are. The failure to make the details public, which we expect to happen at the same time as the amendment is debated in Parliament, will completely rob those affected by the changes of the chance to tell their MP what they think of the changes prior to the debate, unless the MP brings a couple of copies back to the constituency tomorrow and hastily sets up meetings over the weekend.
Now, we’re not sure how announcing that there will be 120 changes, which will now give the opportunity for more petitions to be heard and therefore extend the committee process is a ‘major step forward’. To say that these changes are as a result of listening to communities is disingenuous to say the least, as the only reason these changes are needed is because HS2 Ltd completely failed to listen to communities for five years. The reality is that HS2 Ltd have been forced into making these changes after being embarrassed by members of the public giving evidence to the HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee.
The end of the DfT press release claims that: “The hybrid Bill remains on track to achieve Royal Assent by the end of 2016.”, which is slightly ironic as the original plan was that HS2 would already have Royal Assent by now. On top of that, this will not be the last set of amendments as more will surely come up as a result of the ongoing petitioning process, and of course we are still waiting for the final designs for Euston station to be submitted.
We will provide links to the actual proposed changes once they are made available, which we expect to be on or after Tuesday 23rd June. Following the first publication of planning notices in the press, there will be four weeks for those affected by the changes to submit petitions to the Hybrid Bill Committee. The process will be the same as with previous petitions, apart from the fact that those who have already submitted petitions will not have to pay another £20.
The full text of what will be debated on Tuesday is as follows:
High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill: Instruction (No.3)
That it be a further Instruction to the Select Committee to which the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill is committed-
(1) that the Select Committee have power to consider–
(a) amendments relating to the vertical and horizontal alignment of the proposed railway in the vicinity of the A38 and Trent and Mersey Canal in the parishes of Fradley and Streethay, King’s Bromley and Whittington in the County of Staffordshire;
(b) amendments conferring additional power to carry out works in the Borough of Slough and in the parish of Iver in the County of Buckinghamshire for the purpose of providing a new Heathrow Ex depot in the Borough of Slough (to the north east of Langley railway station), in consequence of the displacement of the existing depot because of the exercise of powers conferred by the Bill;
(c) amendments conferring additional power to provide sidings for Crossrail services at Old Oak Common in the London Boroughs of Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham that could be extended in the future to create a connection between the West Coast Main Line Railway and the Great Western Main Line;
(d) amendments to accommodate the requirements of landowners and occupiers in:
- the London Boroughs of Brent and Ealing;
- the parishes of Barton Hartshorn, Calvert Green, Chetwode, Great Missenden, Grendon Underwood, Little Missenden, Preston Bissett, The Lee and Twyford in the County of Buckinghamshire;
iii. the parishes of Godington and Mixbury in the County of Oxfordshire;
- the parishes of Aston-le-Walls, Boddington, Chipping Warden and Edgcote, Greatworth, Radstone, Thorpe Mandeville and Whitfield in the County of Northamptonshire;
- the parishes of Burton Green, Coleshill, Curdworth, Kenilworth, Ladbroke, Lea Marston, Middleton, Offchurch, Southam, Stoneleigh, Stoneton, Wishaw and Moxhull and Wormleighton in the County of Warwickshire;
- the parishes of Armitage with Handsacre, Drayton Bassett, Hints with Canwell, King’s Bromley, Swinfen and Packington and Whittington in the County of Staffordshire;
vii. the parishes of Balsall, Berkswell, Chelmsley Wood and Hampton-inArden in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull; and
viii. the City of Birmingham;
(e) amendments to accommodate 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 District of Three Rivers in the County of Hertfordshire;
iii. the parishes of Chetwode, Denham, Ellesborough, Great Missenden, Grendon Underwood, Little Missenden, Preston Bissett, Quainton, Steeple Claydon, Stoke Mandeville, Turweston, Twyford and Wendover in the County of Buckinghamshire;
- the parishes of Godington and Mixbury in the County of Oxfordshire;
- the parishes of Aston-le-Walls, Boddington, Greatworth, Marston St Lawrence, Radstone and Thorpe Mandeville in the County of Northamptonshire;
- the parishes of Coleshill, Curdworth, Kingsbury, Lea Marston, Middleton, Offchurch, Radbourne and Stoneleigh in the County of Warwickshire;
vii. the parishes of Colwich, Drayton Bassett, Fradley and Streethay, Hints with Canwell, King’s Bromley, Swinfen and Packington and Weeford in the County of Staffordshire;
viii. the parishes of Berkswell and Bickenhill in the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull;
- the City of Birmingham;
(f) amendments to the definition of deposited statement” in clause 63(1) of the Bill to refer to 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;
(g) amendments for purposes connected with any of the matters mentioned in sub paragraphs (a) to (f);
(2) that any petition against amendments to the Bill which the Select Committee is empowered to make shall be referred to the Select Committee if–
(a) the petition is presented by being deposited in the Private Bill Office not later than the end of the period of four weeks beginning with the day on which the first newspaper notice of the amendments was published, and
(b) the petition is one in which the petitioners pray to be heard by themselves or through counsel or agents.
That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.