HS2 and Warwickshire County Council
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Warwickshire County Council’s position on HS2?
High Speed 2 (HS2) is the biggest infrastructure project in a generation. The construction of HS2 Phase One will have a significant impact on the lives, communities and countryside of Warwickshire for the next 10 years and beyond, while the impact of Phase Two will be felt for almost as long again in North Warwickshire. It is imperative that the county council continues to provide detailed scrutiny of HS2 to ensure that the impact on Warwickshire is as minimal as possible, and fairly compensated where necessary.
The county council resolved in December 2010 to “oppose the scheme in its present form” and “to work with the Government consultants to reduce the impact on Warwickshire of any high speed railway to ensure it does not unnecessarily harm the Warwickshire countryside or create blight on our residents, businesses and recreational facilities.” On February 25 2014 a council resolution was passed to formally oppose the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill deposited in Parliament. This included authorisation to instruct a Parliamentary Agent to lodge a petition against it.
As the project has progressed, the county council’s priorities have evolved to include: mitigation, community advocacy, maximising the opportunities for deriving economic benefit, preparation for the delivery stage and community safety during the construction phase.
What is the HS2 hybrid Bill?
The HS2 Hybrid Bill is the Parliamentary legislation required to build High Speed 2. This is a Parliamentary bill which contains combined features of a public bill and a private bill. Public bills concern the public general law of the land, which affect everybody, while private bills affect individuals, institutions or localities differently from the provisions of the general law.
In Parliament, Hybrid Bills are treated partly like public bills and partly like private bills. Like a public bill, this Bill is first presented by a Government Minister (First Reading) and is then debated in a Second Reading debate. If Second Reading is agreed to, the Bill is referred to a specially appointed select committee, similar to the process for private bills, which gives individuals and bodies directly and specially affected by the Bill the opportunity to object to the Bill’s provisions and seek its amendment.
The select committee hears argument and evidence from both the promoters of the Bill (HS2 Ltd in this case) and the petitioners and reaches a decision on each point. It can recommend changes to the Bill. After the select committee stage, a public bill committee will sit and the Bill’s clauses will be debated by MPs.
Following the public bill committee, the Bill progresses through various passages of Parliament including the report stage and Third Reading. This process happens in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords until it can gain Royal Assent and become law.
What is the next stage of the Parliamentary process?
The Bill is currently being considered by the House of Lords select committee. Improvements and mitigation measures have been added to the route during its passage through parliament. This was done through regular meetings and ongoing dialogue with HS2 during the design and Hybrid Bill process, allowing positive changes in a number of areas including; amendments to lorry routes, sympathetic consideration of public rights of way and amendments to some highway junctions to address safety concerns.
Once the House of Lords select committee has completed its hearings the Bill receives Royal Assent, and becomes an Act. Its powers are enacted and construction on scheduled works must start within 10 years of the Act having passed.
If the HS2 Bill is passed and amendments have been made as a result of Warwickshire County Council’s petition, formal commitments called ‘undertakings’ or ‘assurances’ will be activated which allows enforcement action to be taken if they not be delivered.
What has Warwickshire County Council achieved to date?
The county council submitted four petitions; three in the Commons (The Bill, Additional Provision 2 and 4) and one in the Lords. Each petition aimed to mitigate the impact of HS2 and improve the outcome in Warwickshire. The council appeared in front of a select committee three times – twice in the Commons and once in the Lords. The petitioning process and negotiations resulted in 12 assurances from HS2 in relation to matters of traffic management, highways, ecology, safe cycle routes along main roads, a cycle bridge over the Fosse at Offchurch, commitments on the route of Public Rights of Way, a special management zone to ensure continuity of engagement between Phase One and 2b in North Warwickshire, and an undertaking to provide land and funding towards a new primary school at Water Orton in advance of the HS2 main works in the area.
What happens next?
The current timescales from HS2 Ltd suggest that once the Bill passes through the House of Lords during autumn, the aim is that it will receive Royal Assent by December 2016. If this is the case, the legal powers needed to build the railway contained in the Hybrid Bill will be available to HS2 from January 2017. This will allow them to commence site investigation, early works to set out compounds and carriageway improvements before the main civil engineering starts in 2018. As the Parliamentary process for Phase One concludes Phase 2b will be launched to take its place. The time table is likely to be;
|Autumn 2016||confirmation of route|
|Early 2017||– consultation on the ES|
|Late 2018/early 2019 (estimated)||Introduction of 2b Hybrid bill – Commons and Lords Select Committees to follow.|
|Early 2020s||Royal Assent|
|Early 2020s||Construction begins|
What further information is available?
Further information is available on these websites:
As well as HS2 Ltd who can be contacted via their help desk on: 0207 944 4908
How much money has Warwickshire ‘opposing’ HS2?
The total amount of money spent by the county council opposing HS2 (not discharging any statutory functions) from 2010 to April 2014 is £150,972.20.
This is broken down per financial period as follows:
2010 – 2012: £50,000
Officer time (including costs): £1,033.20
What is the total county council budget for dealing with HS2?
Council resolved on 6 February 2014 to approve future funding for the management and petitioning process for Phases One and Two of the HS2 project. The following table shows the figures for financial years 2014-15 and 2015-16.
|2014-15||£287,356 (year end actual)|
|2015/16||£157,573 (year end actual)|
The county council approved budget for 2016-2017 is £200,000. The budget for 2017/18 will be determined during the budget setting process of the Council.