Our thoughts on the expected announcement from Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 Ltd, outlining further detail on Phase Two or ‘The Y’ section of the route from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester.
The National Trust continues to work hard to deliver the best, most beneficial and sensitive mitigation of Phase 1 of HS2, particularly properties in Buckinghamshire. We have adopted a neutral position on HS2, not opposing it in principle, but opposing the route in detail where it affects our properties. We have sought to partner with like-minded stakeholders to positively influence the design of HS2 in general and detail, to minimise environmental impact and to promote exemplary mitigation of impacts on NT properties and other special places.
The impact of Phase 2 will be more widespread, and is likely to be more harmful to some of the Trust’s special places. We are currently particularly concerned about the impacts on Hardwick Hall, Dunham Massey Park, Nostell Priory, Calke Abbey, Shugborough Hall, Tatton Park and Staunton Harold Church, and continue to improve our understanding of those impacts at each place.
Getting HS2 right and minimising its negative impacts is crucial work. The detail of ‘getting it right’ for each of our properties relies on information and dialogue with HS2 Ltd, as it does for everyone else affected by HS2.
We responded comprehensively to the Phase 2 route consultation, delivering a 125-page report to HS2 in January 2014, which provided detailed analysis and our view on the impact of HS2 on our properties in the Midlands and the North. Our response also set a high benchmark for mitigation of these impacts.
On Monday 27th October Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2 Ltd, will publish a report into the future of Phase 2 of the project.
We think that the report will cover:
- Timeline for the Phase 2 – the progress of Phase 1 through Parliament continues to be slow, and Royal Assent is not likely before 2016. Phase 2’s progress is partly sequential with Phase 1, but Sir David Higgins is likely to re-emphasise the financial cost of what he regards as delay, and so the recommendations in the report should be viewed with this in mind. The National Trust believes in taking time and working openly to achieve the best route solutions and mitigations.
- Announcement of changes to the Published Scheme – the report is not expected to deliver much further detail of the route. Changes are anticipated to be pretty high level, and this is decreasingly satisfactory as time passes and uncertainty remains very high. There will be some changes to the detail that may have implications for our places along the route, and apart from rumour and local/constituency conjecture, these changes have been, so far, completely unpublicised.
- A discussion, if not a decision, on a preferred location of a hub station in the Midlands is also expected. We are aware of proposals from both Derby City Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council having been put forward, but a decision on these is likely to be delivered in light of Sir David Higgins’ support for the Crewe interchange/Hub station in his HS2 Plus report in March 2014. This topic has been the subject of lots of local media speculation and no public communications have been made by HS2 Ltd on the way forward here in recent months. The implications of this decision may exacerbate the harm caused by HS2 on National Trust properties which are particularly special and precious in the congested Midlands landscape.
We would like the report to cover:
- Analysis of Route Consultation – this report could provide the first formal feedback on Phase 2 from HS2 Ltd since the end of the route consultation in January 2014. There were over 10,000 responses to that consultation, but a thematic analysis of those responses would be useful. Our response to that consultation is here. Detailed responses to the Route Consultation have not been issued by HS2 Ltd and we would hope that the report provides significant levels of detail in response to the detailed submissions made to that Route Consultation.