Final day for HS2 consultation
- Published on Friday, 29 July 2011 09:35
- Posted by Scott Buckler
People wishing to have their say on the Government's proposals for a high speed rail network have until the end of today (Friday 29 July) to register their views as one of the biggest consultation exercises ever undertaken by Government reaches its conclusion
Since it was launched at the end of February, the consultation process has included a series of 31 public roadshows held over 41 days along the proposed line of route, regional seminars for business and civic leaders across the UK and information stands at stations across England and Scotland. Information was provided on all aspects of the scheme ranging from the economic case to property concerns and the impact on the environment. Almost 30,000 people attended the events where they were able to quiz engineers and experts from HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport.
Over the coming months, responses to the consultation will be carefully analysed before the Transport Secretary makes a decision on whether to proceed with the scheme towards the end of the year.
Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said:
"High speed rail has the potential to transform the economic map of our country, create jobs, drive regeneration and deliver the additional rail capacity we so badly need. However I also understand the concerns of those who will be directly affected by the proposals, which is why we have done everything possible to allow people to find out about the scheme and to have their say. I am grateful to all who have taken the time to contribute to the consultation and their views will form a vital part of the process as we move towards a decision later this year."
If the decision is taken to build a line from London to the West Midlands, the next stage would be for the Government to introduce a hybrid Bill which would set out the land requirements for the first phase of the project and provide the necessary legal powers to build and operate the new railway. Before such a bill could be introduced to Parliament, work would be required to complete the next stage of engineering design, including more detailed design of the route, its structures and mitigation measures. This process would also see the production of a full Environmental Impact Assessment and would be done in consultation with local communities and relevant authorities to agree mitigation measures.
Should the decision be taken to proceed with a high speed line, the drafting of a hybrid Bill would be likely to take until autumn 2013, when it would be deposited in Parliament. Parliamentary process could then be expected to take about one and a half years with a view to gaining Royal Assent in early 2015. Following a period of preparation, construction would then take approximately eight years, with testing of the line beginning in 2024 and the London to West Midlands line opening in early 2026.
The Government would expect to announce and consult on its proposed route and station locations for the second phase of the project - the legs from the West Midlands to Manchester and Leeds - over the next few years. This would be with a view to introducing a second hybrid Bill in the next Parliament.