MPs call for HS2 changes

 

MPs have given a final verdict on Phase One of HS2, calling for various environmental, social and design changes, but campaigners claim they have not gone far enough.

After nearly two years and 160 days of sittings in which it heard close to 1,600 petitions, the Select Committee on the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill has published its final report.

The committee was set up in 2014 to give individuals and bodies affected by the Bill the opportunity to object to its specific provisions and seek to amend it, but not to object to the principle of the legislation.

Its recommendations include:

  • a longer Chilterns bored tunnel with a north portal at South Heath
  • greater noise protection for Wendover; better construction arrangements in Hillingdon
  • a remodelled maintenance depot at Washwood Heath to maximise local job opportunities

The committee also recommended amendments to the operation of the discretionary compensation schemes with a view toward greater fairness and a more functional property market in areas near to the proposed line.

Committee chair Robert Syms MP said: ‘With this report on Phase One of the High Speed Rail programme, we have endeavoured to add substantial environmental, social and design benefits to the scheme, in balance with good use of public money and a viable engineering design.’

But Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said, ‘Since HS2 was first announced, ordinary people affected have tried to engage with HS2 Ltd to solve issues with the plans that affected them. But they were fobbed off because they were told the HS2 committee would look at them. However in many cases the committee have gone along with the scheme as presented to them.’

The Bill will now go to a public bill committee for line-by-line scrutiny, followed by its report stage and third reading. If passed by the House of Commons, it will go to the Lords.

 

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