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28 April 2014

HS2 Bill Passed Second Reading

The HS2 Phase I Hybrid Bill passed the Second Reading in the House of Commons despite opposition from some Conservative rebels. As reported in our blog of 27 April, a motion to stop the bill was put forward by Cheryl Gillian, however this was defeated by a majority of 401.

There were fewer rebels than anticipated and the general principle of the Bill was passed by a majority of 411. However, many of those who have been vocal in opposing the project were absent from the Commons, suggesting the voting figures may not reflect the true scale of the cynicism surrounding the Bill.

The significance of the Reading is that the “principle” of the Bill has been established and there can be no further challenges against the general proposal of the line. Whilst this does not guarantee that HS2 will be built, it is a significant step closer to it becoming law, which is anticipated to be after the 2015 general election. Confident that the project will go ahead, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin stated that there will be “spades in the ground in 2017 as planned”. Mr McLoughlin acknowledged the concerns of those living near the proposed line and expressed his confidence that by working together the line will be designed in “the right way”.

Those who are likely to be affected now have the opportunity to protect themselves and their businesses by submitting a petition to the House of Commons. The petition will take the form of a summary of objections, and is a formal request for the Select Committee to consider a petitioner’s concerns.

Petitioning is not open to everyone, and there are specific rules and formalities to be followed to successfully submit a petition. Concerns that have not been raised in the petition cannot be heard by the Select Committee and it is vital that the objections are thorough and detailed, with reference to the relevant provisions of the Bill.

It is important to move quickly to submit a petition, the deadlines confirmed as 16 May 2014 for companies and local authorities, and 23 May 2014 for parish councils and individuals. The team at Charles Russell HS2 would be delighted to assist in the drafting and submission of a petition in order to best protect your position.