UK: Now That The Phase 1 Hybrid Bill And Environmental Statement Has Been Published, What Should You Do Next On HS2?

Summary and implications

The High Speed 2 (HS2) Bill London – West Midlands (the Bill) had its first reading in Parliament on Monday 25 November 2013. It was accompanied by an environmental statement (ES) and supporting documentation that amounts to approximately 50,000 pages.

To understand the full effects of HS2 on your land and interests on a temporary and permanent basis it will be necessary to review this documentation. Even if land is not being taken, the construction impacts could be severe.

There is now an eight week consultation process on the ES during which anyone can make representations on the content of the ES (and specifically the environmental impacts of HS2), the alternatives including route alignments, as well as the HS2 project generally. The deadline for submitting representations is Friday 24 January 2014. If you are concerned about any aspects of Phase 1 of the HS2 project we recommend that you submit representations by this date.

In Spring 2014 there will be a period during which petitions (objections/representations) against the Bill can be made. In this briefing, we set out the next steps:

Parliamentary process

Following the ES consultation an independent assessor will summarise the issues raised and report on these issues 14 days before the second reading of the Bill. It is intended that this report will inform MPs in advance of the second reading of the Bill. It remains to be seen exactly how the process will comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, as it is not clear how the ES will be evaluated in the context of the representations made.

At the second reading the principle of the Bill is established. This means that the select committee charged with hearing petitions against the Bill will not be able to hear petitions that object to the principle of the Bill. As a result the precise form of the instruction to the select committee from the House of Commons will need to be carefully considered by those who wish to petition against the Bill. This may prove to be an area of contention between the Government and those petitioners affected by the Bill if the instruction to the select committee is narrow and effectively prevents issues being addressed.

Following the second reading there will be a period for petitioning against the Bill if your interests are specially and directly affected by it. This is the time for those businesses affected by the Bill to object to its impacts and to suggest changes. The petitioning period is expected to be in Spring 2014.

The purpose of the petitioning process is to secure amendments to the Bill or to reach agreement with the Secretary of State for Transport on how the Bill's powers will be used. It is important that the petition (which is in a specialised form of language (and subject to special procedures)) sets out the issues of concern and the proposed solutions.

If an agreement is not reached by the time a petitioner is scheduled to appear before the select committee, it is open to the petitioner to present its case to them. This is often done with the assistance of a consultant team. The select committee will then consider the issues and write a report. The Bill then follows the normal Parliamentary process and the petitioning process is repeated in the House of Lords.

The petitioning process is an important means of protecting the interests of those affected by the Bill and encourages negotiations between parties. We strongly recommend that the process is used as opposed to relying on verbal assurances and position statements.

Nabarro has previously acted as Roll B Parliamentary Agents for petitioners against hybrid bills and can advise you on the Bill documentation and ES so that you can fully understand the powers that are being sought over your land and interest and how your development may be affected during the long construction programme.

HS2 is already having a significant effect on business and residential owners. The earlier those affected take action, the greater the likelihood of reaching a suitable arrangement with HS2. If you are affected by HS2 and would like advice about compensation, compulsory purchase or responding to consultations please contact a member of the team at Nabarro.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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