In answer to a Parliamentary written question from Jeremy Lefroy, earlier this week, Robert Goodwill said that the EIA for Phase 2a (Fradley to Crewe) is due to be published in the autumn.
“HS2 Ltd is already undertaking environmental surveys, meeting communities and carrying out ground investigation works on the planned line of route as part of its preparation for a Phase 2a hybrid Bill.
“This early investigation and engagement will inform a draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report, which we expect to publish for consultation in autumn 2016. The draft report will show the potential environmental impacts of the scheme and indicative steps to mitigate them.”
The first point is that this is already delayed. Phase 2 was supposed to have been under much further along by now. Under original plans, the preparation of the Phase 2 Hybrid Bill and the EIA for the whole of Phase 2 should have come out in 2015: instead the decision (not publication!) of the Phase 2 route, apart from a small section, is now due to be made in the autumn, over two years behind schedule.
And there is always the question of ‘when is autumn’. The original Phase 2 announcement was due in autumn 2012. This slipped to “the end of the year”, and then to “the new year” before finally being announced at the end of January 2013.
The upshot of this is that MPs, and possibly also the House of Lords, may be asked to pass Phase 1 legislation long before important details of any of Phase 2 are made known.
Admittedly we think HS2 should be cancelled in its entirety. However even those MPs who want a new railway line north of Birmingham should think very carefully before voting for HS2 Phase 1 – because passing Phase 1 does not mean Phase 2a, or the rest of Phase 2 of HS2 will ever happen.