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Action Taken To Make Voices Heard On HS2

The Borough Council is taking steps to try and ensure residents have their voices heard over the impact of the HS2 high speed rail project between London and Manchester.

Government proposals for the scheme will see the route go through the borough as part of the stretch between Fradley near Lichfield and Crewe. It is part of a wider high speed rail network which will link London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

Last July, a Hybrid Bill relating to the line was deposited in Parliament and it had its second reading last month. Immediately following the second reading a call went out for “petitions” to be lodged by interested parties.

The deadline was 5pm on 26 February and after the principle of “petitioning” was agreed at Full Council last week, the Council has worked flat out to make its submission on time.

At the council meeting, members were told that the Hybrid Bill offers the only opportunity for local authorities, local communities, individuals and interested parties to challenge the Government’s proposals for the rail line and seek to have changes made.

This process - known as “petitioning” - involves a formal notice being made to Parliament by an affected party to have their views heard.

Cllr. Simon Tagg, Leader of the Council, said: “We must get the best mitigation possible for our residents and businesses in relation to the route. The way to do this is by using the petitioning process.

“We hope to work alongside the county council, community groups and others and by working together we can hopefully have a bigger voice when it comes to making our views known to Government.”

Councillors heard there are a number of petitioning issues which could be considered.

These include:-

  • Minimising potentially serious harm to the landscape such as the loss of ancient woodland to the north of Madeley as well as a proper assessment of the potential to join the Whitmore Heath and Bar Hill (Madeley) tunnels via the so-called “longer deeper tunnel” option.
  • If the longer deeper tunnel is not pursued then trying to achieve the most satisfactory design solution to a 20-metre high viaduct proposed at Madeley. Councillors would hope for a design-led rather than cost-driven engineering solution.
  • Improved programming of construction operations including routing construction traffic away from residential properties.
  • A general improvement in mitigation of the effects of the construction and operation of HS2 on the borough.

Cllr. Paul Northcott, Cabinet member for planning and regeneration, said: “Part of the route intersects two of the most rural wards in our borough and by aligning with Staffordshire County Council and campaign groups on the big ticket requests for mitigation, we will present a united front to both the Select Committee and HS2 Limited.

“The human impacts on our residents of both the construction and operational elements of the rail line need to be conveyed via the opportunity that petitioning presents to ensure any harmful issues are either removed or mitigated as much as possible.”

Councillors heard that failure to petition would leave the Council in a weak position with no means of directly securing improved mitigation for the borough unless changes are achieved by other petitioners.

Although there will be a cost associated with the petitioning process, it is difficult to pinpoint exact figures at this moment in time. Evidence will have to be gathered and specialist Parliamentary agents are usually recruited to present the case to Parliament. The Borough Council has confirmed it will seek to share costs with partners where possible.

Last updated 27 February 2018