MPs today will debate amendments to the HS2 Phase One Bill requiring councils to be reimbursed for costs incurred as a result of the new rail line’s construction and operation, including lost business rates and damage to highways.
The Bill reaches its report stage and third Commons reading this afternoon where the amendments tabled by Conservative MP Cheryl Gillan, a former Cabinet minister and a longstanding opponent of HS2 will be discussed.
One amendment would require ministers to ‘assess the costs incurred by local authorities that arise directly and indirectly from the construction and future operation of HS2, including staff costs, and [to] ensure that such additional funding as is required to reimburse local authorities for those costs is made available’.
Cheryl Gillan MP said HS2 construction will be damaging
A separate amendment would require ministers to conduct six-monthly assessments of the amounts required to repair and make good highways in each county following construction of HS2 Phase One and ensure that councils are reimbursed.
Ms Gillan, MP for Chesham & Amersham, told Transport Network: ‘Local authorities up and down the proposed line have been given virtually no extra help to meet the costs of the work they have to carry out. Buckinghamshire County Council and Chiltern District Council, my local councils, are only two of many others affected.
‘This amendment would provide statutory enforcement to moves to recover costs. Construction will be damaging so councils need to be reimbursed.'
Ms Gillan does not know if transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin will accept the amendments.
If they are not accepted, she has the option of putting them to a vote but there will be limited time during the debate, which has been restricted to two hours. Other MPs have also tabled amendments.
The Local Government Association declined to comment on the proposed amendments.
Elsewhere, East Midlands Councils, the forum for councils in the region has expressed support for the Phase One Bill, on the grounds that it is vital to Phase Two from Birmingham to Leeds, including the route through the East Midlands and the proposed hub station at Toton.
Cllr Jon Collins, the body’s vice chair, said: ‘The vote in the Commons this week is a watershed moment for HS2. There is no doubt that the line from London to Birmingham will be built. But we need a strong show of Parliamentary support on Wednesday to maintain momentum for Phase Two. The worst outcome for us is that HS2 is only partially completed, without a Hub Station serving the East Midlands.’