Later today the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill will receive its First Reading. This is a significant step forward in the Government’s strategy for a high-speed rail network that will address the critical capacity constraints that we face and improve connectivity between our great cities. This is vital to ensure that the country is equipped to compete economically in the 21st century.
The Bill includes the powers necessary to construct and operate phase 1 of HS2 between London and the west midlands. Alongside the Bill I will also be publishing several other related documents.
As required by Standing Orders I will publish an environmental statement (ES) alongside the Bill. This ES describes the railway, the alternatives considered to it, the significant environmental effects that are likely to arise from its construction and operation, and the measures proposed to avoid or reduce these effects. It has been informed by the consultation on the draft environmental statement held earlier this year and includes HS2 Ltd’s response to that consultation.
Following publication of the ES a public consultation will be held that will close on 24 January 2014. A report summarising the responses will be produced by an independent assessor appointed by the House authorities.
I will also publish the Command Paper “The Government response to the HS2 Design Refinement Consultation”. In October I announced my decisions in relation to the proposals for tunnels at Northolt and Bromford, and this document sets out my decisions in relation to the remaining 12 design proposals that were consulted on between May and July this year.
I will also publish two Command Papers addressing issues outstanding from the October 2012 property and compensation consultation. “HS2 Property and Compensation for London-West Midlands Decision document—Impact on Social Rented Housing” sets out the Government’s approach to the replacement of lost social rented housing. It affirms our commitment to working with key stakeholders in order to ensure that where social rented housing is lost as a result of HS2, it is replaced in a manner sympathetic to local needs and reflective of the relevant local authority’s strategy for social housing.
“HS2 Property and Compensation for London-West Midlands Decision document—Properties above Tunnels” addresses our policies relating to properties above tunnels and other underground excavations, providing clarity and reassurance for property owners and the wider market.
Copies of these Command Papers and the ES will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The documents can also be found on: www.gov.uk/dft.