Update on HS2 provided by the County Council lead officer Sarah Mallen July 1st 2020
- The Oakervee Review, published in February 2020, recommended that all phases of the project should proceed. This was subsequently confirmed by the Prime Minister.
- The Review recommended that the Handsacre Link, connecting the WCML with the high-speed line, and enabling Stafford and Stoke to get a high speed service, be removed. This recommendation was NOT accepted by government (we lobbied heavily for it to be retained as it would have meant all pain no gain for Staffs) and the link will go ahead as planned.
- Phase One is now under construction proper, with the Notice to Proceed for the main civil engineering works given on 15 April. This gives formal approval for main construction works to begin. The joint venture responsible for Phase One construction in Staffordshire is Balfour Beatty Vinci.
- All construction will be undertaken in line with Public Health England advice during the coronavirus outbreak.
- The County Council continues with its statutory duty to process detailed planning consents under Phase One of the scheme, and to comment on a range of technical documents.
- Further promotion has been undertaken for the HS2 Community Funds, as uptake has been low in Staffordshire. Please encourage anyone you know in an area affected by the route to apply.
- Phase 2a continues its journey through parliament and is currently in Select Committee in the House of Lords. As you will be aware, progress has been delayed by the pandemic, and parliament are working on setting up video hearings for the remaining petitioners. The County Council completed its petitioning in the Commons, securing a £10m suite of highways improvements, and is not petitioning the Lords.
- HS2 Ltd have stated that their original intention was to deposit the Phase 2b hybrid Bill towards the end of 2020. Following the Oakervee review, only the Western leg will now proceed to hybrid Bill deposit. This will be sometime in 2021 but is dependent on Covid-19. Work on the Eastern leg is on hold until further instruction is given on how to proceed. A key concern for us with Phase 2b is the impact on our highways network. The most recent set of traffic data were recently presented to us but it is likely this picture will change as the delays may mean resurveys are necessary. We continued to highlight key areas of concern, primarily Pennine Way.
Further details on progress with HS2 Phase 2a can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/high-speed-rail-west-midlands-to-crewe-bill and https://www.hs2.org.uk/phase-2a-west-midlands-crewe/. This latter link contains a video fly through of the route showing the works in context.
EH and planning continue to be involved in working groups with HS2 Ltd.
Update from HS2, 29 October 2019
Phase 2a Bill progress
As you’ll be aware, the Phase 2a Bill is currently being considered by Parliament. The Parliamentary process will end with Royal Assent of the Bill and once it is passed, the Act will give HS2 Ltd the powers it needs to build and run the railway.
We expect petitions against the Bill in the House of Lords to be heard by a Select Committee of Peers next month, and Royal Assent of the Bill around the end of the year, subject to the availability of Parliamentary time.
Alongside the Parliamentary process, we are continuing our programme of ground investigations on the Phase 2a route. This work is helping us to understand local ground conditions and will inform how the railway will be built. We will continue to keep you up-to-date about any works in your local area.
We have recently established 13 ‘information points’ along the line of route, where members of the public can find out more about HS2. The information points are in public locations like libraries and council office reception areas, and provide a range of documents for people to take away, such as leaflets explaining our community funds and help available for affected property owners.
Our information points are at the following locations:
• Libraries: Brereton, Rugeley, Lichfield, Uttoxeter, Stafford, Stone and Crewe
• Council offices: Lichfield District, Stafford Borough, Staffordshire County, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Cheshire East
• Yarnfield Park Conference Centre
We have a website, known as Commonplace, which is dedicated to news and information about HS2 in your area. It can be found here: www.hs2instaffordshire.co.uk.
We use the website to publish articles of interest to the local community, such as this one about community visits to our ground investigations sites. We also have information on how we would reduce HS2 construction traffic on local roads during construction.
As your local community engagement manager, I will be your long-term point of contact with HS2, and will keep you up-to-date with news and information about HS2 in your area, including local community engagement activity.