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HS2 Phase One Consultations

Volume 563: debated on Thursday 16 May 2013

The Government have today published two documents for consultation which significantly move forward our work on the HS2 route between London and the west midlands (known as phase 1 of HS2). These are the draft environmental statement and the design refinements consultations.

Publication of the draft environmental statement (ES) is a key step towards delivering the hybrid Bill for the HS2 route between London and the west midlands. The formal ES will be published alongside the hybrid Bill later this year, having been further refined in light of responses to the draft ES consultation.

The draft ES provides, wherever available, information on the likely significant environmental effects of HS2—and our plans wherever possible to mitigate them.

The Government believe that HS2 is vital for this country and will provide a huge economic return. However, I am aware that the building of the railway will cause disruption for those living close to the line of route. I am determined that this disruption should be kept to a minimum and mitigated wherever possible.

Consulting on the draft ES is not a statutory requirement but the Government recognise the importance of ensuring widespread engagement on the scheme. Best design can only be reached with the input of local communities, environmental groups and all levels of Government.

Once the hybrid Bill is deposited, there will be a further period of consultation on the formal environmental statement as part of the parliamentary process.

Alongside the draft ES, I have published a consultation on a series of design refinements for the HS2 route between London and the west midlands. Since we set out our proposed route in January 2012 we have been developing the detailed design of the scheme, listening to the representations from individuals and organisations affected by the route. This refinement process aims to ensure that we design a railway that is as efficient and effective as possible while limiting as far as practicable its impacts on people and the environment.

Many of these proposed refinements are small in scale but some are more significant, altering the local impact of the scheme. To ensure my final decisions on these refinements are informed by the best possible information I have decided to consult on my initial preferences for the more significant changes before deciding whether to include them in the final design of the scheme.

Consultation on both the draft environmental statement and the design refinements closes on 11 July. Consulting on these two documents is part of the process of helping to make HS2 the best it can be, providing passengers with the high level of service they expect while minimising as far as practicable the impact on local communities.