On 17th July 2017, the government introduced the High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill into Parliament. The Bill will authorise the construction and operation of HS2 from Fradley in Staffordshire (the northern end of the Phase One Act works) to Crewe. The Bill gives deemed planning permission for the works, power to acquire land compulsorily and power to alter highways, amongst other things.
As with the Bill for Phase One, the Phase 2A Bill is a hybrid Bill. This means that it affects the interests of some people differently from those of others (for example by authorising the compulsory acquisition of their land) and as a consequence it must go through a procedure in Parliament which allows those people who are affected specially and directly to object by submitting a petition.
The Bill is accompanied by a large environmental statement (ES). The first significant stage of the Bill’s progress in Parliament provides an opportunity for people to make representations about the ES. The representations will be summarised in a report that is then presented to Parliament.
Once the Bill has been given a second reading in the House of Commons, a deadline is set by which petitions will be submitted. We understand that it will be some time before that will happen. In an unusual turn of events, the government is likely to introduce some amendments to the Bill before second reading has taken place. That is unlikely to be until late Autumn at the earliest.
So long as their right to be heard is not successfully challenged first, petitioners can present a case to a select committee which will eventually consider the Bill – that is unlikely to happen until 2018.
Sharpe Pritchard acted as Parliamentary Agents for a large number of petitioners on the Phase One Bill, including most of the local authorities affected, national organisations such as the National Trust and NFU, landowners, including farm owners, owners of significant station sites and business owners whose land is to be taken or otherwise affected. Clients of Sharpe Pritchard secured a number of significant concessions and changes to the route.
We can advise those affected by the Phase 2A Bill, and indeed the proposals for Phase 2B which have also been confirmed today. We can advise on the Parliamentary process and the progress of the Bill and can assist in drafting responses to the ES and petitions and securing concessions. We can also appear in committee, having done so for a number of peititoners in both Houses of Parliament on Phase One.
If you would like an informal discussion about how we can help you, please contact Emyr Thomas or Alastair Lewis, both of whom are Parliamentary Agents with considerable experience of railway schemes.
This article is for general awareness only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this page was first published.