HS2 Update

HS2 Update

16 December 2013

Phase 1 Hybrid Bill and Environmental Statement Consultation
After the flurry of news and information on HS2 issued late in November, we have now had chance to sort out the critical pieces and begin work on them.

The Hybrid Bill itself proposes to grant very wide powers to the Secretary of State for Transport to construct Phase 1. These include powers to obtain land and rights over land, gain planning permission, move and place apparatus, stop up and divert roads and footpaths, close temporarily or permanently navigations and many others for the purpose of constructing Phase 1. In compensation for the deregulation of normal controls on these issues, the bill does provide constraints on the unreasonable use of these powers.  It is also clear that, provided it goes ahead in this broad form, the Secretary of State will certainly be able to get moving with the scheme.

Schedules to the Bill include protections for and involvement by specific statutory bodies, amongst which, in Schedule 31 Part 4 paragraphs 40-50, is Canal & River Trust. Here the task of CRT in operating and maintaining its waterways is recognised, and the schedule states that this must be recognised. Prior notice of works affecting their waterways must be provided, and approval sought - however that approval may not be unreasonably withheld. The part begins by stating that ‘unless otherwise agreed between CRT and the Secretary of State in writing…’, covering the possibility that CRT will agree an undertaking with the Secretary of State to more specifically protect its waterways. Such an undertaking will be a key part of protection against activity by contractors when designing and constructing HS2 if the bill is enacted. It will also ensure that any changes in route that occur as the bill goes through Parliament still meet minimum waterway requirements. IWA will be looking to, and if appropriate working with, CRT to ensure it has a comprehensive undertaking in place, and where necessary similar undertakings are in place for other waterways.

The bill is accompanied by a final Environmental Statement. A consultation has started on this, closing on 24th January 2014. This statement consists of most of the 50,000 pages making up the bill which was mentioned in the press. IWA is now going through this document, to see what changes have been made in response to our (and others) responses to the July draft. We will then formulate a further response, which will published once completed.

Phase 1 Fradley Junction Feasibility Study
Good progress is being made by CRT’s retained consultant Hyder on this joint IWA-CRT Feasibility Study, and we expect a draft report before Christmas.

Phase 2 route consultation
In all the activity over the Hybrid bill for the Phase 1 route London to Birmingham, it’s easy to forget the consultation that is also running on the two phase 2 routes, from Lichfield to Manchester, and Curdworth to Leeds. IWA is already working with canal societies, CRT and others in identifying waterway issues with phase 2, and potential solutions. The problems have been highlighted in our draft consultation response, which was available on our website for feedback until last Friday, 13th December. This document has now been withdrawn and input we have received will be incorporated to ensure HS2 has a complete picture of IWA’s concerns. Wherever possible these will be aligned with other responses to present a single ‘waterways’ response, along with any proposals to address these concerns which HS2 can take forward.

As always, many thanks to those who have taken the time and effort to get in touch with us on these issues.  Thank you also to the many volunteers who are working their way through the legislation to ensure IWA makes the best possible response to the various documents, and get the best deal for waterways everywhere. It looks like a busy Christmas is in store!

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