Whilst public progress of HS2 seems to have slowed, it is clear that, behind the scenes, the Government has been hard at work to prepare for a series of Summer holiday announcements.
As many will be aware, in February, Royal Assent was given to the legislation enabling Phase 1 of HS2 to be built (between London Euston and Birmingham). Construction is expected to commence next year with the line due to be up and running in late 2026/early 2027.
Following Phase 1, it has now long been the intention of HS2 Ltd to split Phase 2 into two section, Phase 2a between Birmingham and the intended transport hub at Crewe and Phase 2b taking the line up to Manchester Piccadilly and across to Leeds.
17 July 2017 was the day chosen to announce the route decision for Phase 2b and the outcome of the property consultation for that section of the line (both consultations having closed in March).
Much more beneath the radar, however, was the fact that, on the same day, the Government and HS2 Ltd presented the Phase 2b Bill before Parliament and also released the Phase 2b Environmental Statement for consultation.
“This week, the Government released significant developments on all phases of HS2.
Contractors were appointed for phase one, the route and property consultation outcomes were released for phase two b, and the phase two a Bill, with its associated environmental statement, was presented to Parliament.
It is regrettable that this has been timed at the beginning of another holiday season (as happened on the main phase one bill) meaning that those affected may well be prejudiced from being able to take early and effective advice and actions to best protect their position.
The announcements also give rise to serious questions as to the merit of the consultations at all (given that very little has changed), the policy considerations of demolishing part of the newly built Shimmer estate in Mexborough in order for the line to stop in Sheffield and the continued bad deal for businesses”.
In the immediate short term, those affected by Phase 2a need to take note. Details of the route can be found here and anyone affected or interested (whether from a residential, environmental or business perspective) has until 11.45pm on Saturday, 30 September 2017 to respond to the Environmental Statement that will underpin the legislation. It also allows for a much wider range of responses than when the Bill proceeds through the Parliamentary process.
This represents one of the first opportunities for those affected to respond in a way that could alter the proposals ultimately advanced. Our specialist HS2 team assisted a number of affected parties on Phase 1 with their submissions and would be more than happy to assist.