HS2 – the Petitioning deadline speeds rapidly closer
The deadline for the submission of petitions against HS2 by Local Authorities (excluding Parish Councils) and businesses is 16 May 2014 – i.e. today. For all other cases the petition must be lodged at Portcullis House by 2pm on 23 May 2014.
If you have been considering the potential effect HS2 will have on you and your property, it is not too late to begin the petitioning process.
What can petitioning achieve?
Petitioning constitutes a formal request to the House (at the moment being the House of Commons – although if the Bill proceeds, there will be a further petitioning opportunity before the House of Lords) to allow you to argue your case in front of the HS2 Select Committee (made up of Robert Syms MP (Chair), Henry Bellingham MP, Sir Peter Bottomley MP, Ian Mearns MP, Yasmin Qureshi MP and Mike Thornton MP).
You can petition against any particular aspect of the proposed line, including details of the route (but not the principle of HS2 itself). The petition should state your objections to the Bill, and also propose a potential solution to the negative impact HS2 will have on your property and other interests. The overall objective is to negotiate and reach an agreement with HS2 Ltd and the Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP.
If an agreement cannot be reached that settles the petitioner’s objection (and HS2 Ltd will want to settle as many objections as possible), you will need to appear before the Select Committee if you want to continue to air your concerns and reservations. The Select Committee can, if it feels so inclined, recommend changes to the Bill in order to mitigate against the impacts of HS2.
The petition itself must adhere to strict rules and meet specific criteria. It is vital to cover every area of concern – the Select Committee will only hear argument raised on the back of points detailed in the petition.
In order to petition you must be “specially, directly and injuriously affected” by the Bill by demonstrating that there are “effects on you and/or your community that exceed the general impact of an infrastructure project on the relevant local population”.
This will vary depending on the locality. Further, the HS2 Select Committee will have a wide discretion as to who it is prepared to hear from and may allow all those affected by the Bill to petition, even if they do not satisfy all the tests for standing to petition.
If you will be negatively affected by HS2, we strongly recommend petitioning to allow your voice to be heard – it genuinely is the only way to stay at the negotiating table. Petitions can be withdrawn at a later date, and it is worth noting that if a petition is deposited on behalf of more than one person, any of those people can withdraw the petition on behalf of all. It is therefore prudent to submit an individual petition to protect your interests.
Here to help
If you require assistance, the Charles Russell HS2 team can act as a Parliamentary Agent on your behalf (both David Haines and Richard Flenley are registered as Roll B Parliamentary Agents for the Phase 1 HS2 Hybrid Bill). We are happy to advise on the drafting of a petition, or to draft and submit the petition, negotiate with HS2 Ltd and represent you at the Select Committee if a prior settlement cannot be reached.
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