HS2 Hybrid Bill

A hybrid Bill has been published which sets out very wide-ranging powers to be granted 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 waterway interests.

Update

In September 2014 HS2 Ltd published on behalf of the Promoter a list of additional provisions to those already in the Hybrid Bill.