Following almost two years and 160 days of sittings, the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill Select Committee publishes its second and final report. The Committee has heard nearly 1,600 petitions against the Bill and its additional provisions.
The Committee’s recommendations, outlined in the report, include:
- a longer Chilterns bored tunnel with a north portal at South Heath;
- greater noise protection for Wendover;
- better construction arrangements in Hillingdon;
- a remodelled maintenance depot at Washwood Heath to maximise local job opportunities; and
- amendments to the operation of the discretionary compensation schemes with a view toward greater fairness and a more functional property market in areas near to the proposed line.
The High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill Select Committee has provided individuals and bodies directly and specially affected by the Bill with the opportunity to object to specific provisions and to seek its amendment, although not to object to the principle of the Bill. This report marks the completion of the Committee’s hearings of those who had deposited petitions against the Bill and against five sets of additional provisions.
Next stages for the Bill
With the conclusion of the Committee’s proceedings, the Bill is reported to the House. It is then recommitted to a Public Bill Committee for line-by-line scrutiny. The Bill’s Report Stage and Third Reading will follow.
The Department for Transport is expected to respond to the Committee’s report. At least seven days before the Bill’s Third Reading the Department will lay before the House a statement of the main reasons why Parliament will be invited to consent to the Bill and the main measures to mitigate adverse effects. If passed by the House of Commons, the Bill will go to the House of Lords.
Statement from the Committee Chair
Mr Robert Syms MP, Chair of the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill Select Committee, said:
"With this report on Phase One of the High Speed Rail programme, we have endeavoured to add substantial environmental, social and design benefits to the scheme, in balance with good use of public money and a viable engineering design."
Statement from the Minister
Mr Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State at the Department for Transport, said:
"I welcome the report today from the Select Committee and would like to thank members for their significant time and efforts over the course of the hearings. We will consider carefully the recommendations in the report and respond shortly. I also recognise the demands this process has placed on petitioners. We have listened to those affected by the scheme and in many cases we have been able to make the changes they have been calling for. I am happy to say that HS2 remains firmly on schedule, and today’s report marks another significant step towards getting spades in the ground for this transformational project."