HS2 – What is a Preparation Bill?

The inclusion of HS2 in the Queen’s Speech came as no surprise, given the published timetable for phase one of the high speed train link between London and Birmingham.

But you might be forgiven for not understanding what the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill and HS2 Hybrid Bill actually mean in practice.

Our friends at DeHavilland put the following briefing together:

Purpose of High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill

  • Provide Parliamentary authority for essential expenditure to pursue the project to build a High Speed Rail network from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds to the ambitious timetable that has been proposed.
  • Provide a clear statement of the Government’s commitment to driving forward with constructing a new High Speed Rail network.
  • Demonstrate the Government and the country’s commitment to driving forward with High Speed 2, a vital project for British jobs and prosperity.
  • Allow expenditure on the construction design, ecological surveys and other essential preparatory work. The Bill would also allow for this type expenditure on preparatory work for future phases of a high speed rail network at the appropriate time.
  • Require Government to report expenditure on the HS2 programme.

The main elements of the Bill are:

Giving the Secretary of State the spending powers to finance work such as undertaking more detailed design work / letting contracts for designing the construction of the line and carrying out ground investigation and ecological surveys.

Seeking Parliamentary authority for providing compensation for those affected by the construction and operation of the new high speed rail network.

A Hybrid Bill would continue to be required in order to secure the necessary construction powers that are specific to the HS2 scheme.

Purpose of HS2 Hybrid Bill

  • The Bill would provide the Government with the legal powers to compulsorily acquire the land needed to construct the High Speed 2 (HS2) railway and operate it. On becoming an Act, it would give the Government deemed planning permission to deliver the scheme (the details of planning will still need to be developed on a site by site basis in coordination with the local planning authority).

The main elements of the Bill are:

Giving the Government powers to:

  • Compulsorily acquire or temporarily take possession of land required for the scheme.
  • Construct and maintain the railway.
  • Provide deemed planning permission for the scheme.

For more details on Paving Bills and practical example of where they have been used see this House of Commons Library briefing document.

The National Trust remain neither for nor against high speed rail in principle, but we remain opposed to the route of HS2 because of its impact on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and specifically on our places Coombe Hill, Hartwell House and Waddesdon Estate near Aylesbury.

With the time we have before the hybrid Bill is deposited, we will continue to work hard with stakeholders and communities to achieve local consensus on what mitigation is appropriate, and negotiate with HS2 Ltd to ensure the scheme is the best it can possibly be.

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