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High Speed Rail (London–West Midlands) Bill: Briefing for Lords Stages

Published Wednesday, April 6, 2016

This Lords Library briefing provides a short overview of the contents of the HS2 Bill and its progress in the House of Commons.

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The High Speed Rail (London—West Midlands) Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 23 March 2016 and is due to receive its second reading on 14 April 2016. The Bill is large and complex and, if passed, would give both parliamentary and planning approval to phase one of the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail project.

Key Provisions

High Speed 2 is a project to build a high speed rail line from London to Manchester and Leeds, via Birmingham, the East Midlands, Sheffield and Crewe. The planned line would begin operation in 2026 and be completed by 2032. In November 2015, the Government put the total cost of the HS2 project, in 2015 prices, at £55.7 billion (including rolling stock). The project is currently split into three phases and the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill is concerned with phase one of the proposed line, between Euston in London to Birmingham Curzon Street and Handsacre with intermediate stations in West London (Old Oak Common) and at Birmingham Airport. The Explanatory Notes to the Bill provide a detailed commentary on the Bill’s clauses, which include provisions regarding:

  • Powers to construct and maintain works for phase one of HS2: The Bill would authorise works, specified in schedule 1, for the construction and maintenance of phase one of HS2, and all ancillary works. It would also confer upon the ‘nominated undertaker’ the powers to carry out these works. Clause 44 gives the Secretary of State the power to make regulations specifying the nominated undertaker. Clauses 2 and 3 (and schedules 2, 3 and 4) provide powers to the nominated undertaker for the purposes of carrying out these functions.
  • Compulsory acquisition of land and rights in land: Several clauses relate to the power to acquire land (or airspace or subsoil) necessary for the authorised works to be carried out. The Bill would provide the Secretary of State with compulsory acquisition powers. It also contains powers allowing for the compulsory purchase of land for the relocation of businesses displaced as a result of the construction of phase one of HS2, and the power to acquire rights in land.
  • Planning matters: The Bill would remove the requirement for development consent for the scheme under the Planning Act 2008. It would give deemed planning permission for works authorised by the Bill, subject to the conditions set out in schedule 17 and a time limit of ten years. The conditions include a requirement for the nominated undertaker to submit certain details of the development to the planning authorities for approval.
  • The deregulation of works on HS2: This refers to the disapplication of powers contained in other legislation so that work on phase one occurs “expediently after enactment of this Bill”. For example, the Bill would disapply and modify various controls relating to listed buildings, ancient monuments and burial grounds.
  • Railway matters: This part of the Bill seeks to set out the railways regulatory regime which would apply to phase one of HS2, and how this would interact with the existing network. For example, the Bill would disapply the statutory closure provisions within the Railways Act 1983.
  • The remaining sections of the Bill relate to a range of matters including transfer schemes for nominated undertakers and planning permission for statutory undertakers; the application to Crown Land; arbitration; acquisition of land to carry out regeneration or relocation; and further high speed rail works. 

The Bill is a hybrid bill, meaning that it has elements of both a public and private bill. A House of Commons Library briefing outlines the procedural differences between a hybrid and public bill.  Following second reading, hybrid bills are committed to a specially convened committee to allow those affected by the Bill to petition against aspects to which they object. In the Commons, this stage of the Bill took almost two years to complete. After the committee has reported, a hybrid bill is considered in committee, on report and debated at third reading on the floor of the House.

This Lords Library briefing provides a short overview of the contents of the HS2 Bill and provides a summary of its progress through the House of Commons.

Lords In Focus LIF-2016-0024

Author: Heather Evennett

Topics: Regional planning and development, Railways

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