Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin opened the debate in the House of Commons by outlining the case for the new line and the measures that the government was proposing to minimise its environmental impact and compensate affected property owners.
“The West Coast Mainline can take no more,” he said. “It is increasingly full. But more than that: London and the south east are also increasingly full. They are caught in a circle of rising house prices, some of the most expensive commercial rents in the world and transport congestion, while cities in the north want to grow. It is time to help break that cycle – time to connect great cities like Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool. Time for better links north-south, and east-west.”
He said that more than half the route is in tunnels or cuttings and more than two thirds of the line’s surface sections will be insulated by cuttings and landscaping.
MPs voted 452 to 41 in favour of the bill, with opposition to the scheme being led by former Cabinet minister Cheryl Gillan, Conservative MP for Amersham in Buckinghamshire.
The bill provides:
- the authority to undertake the works required for the construction and maintenance of Phase One of HS2, between London and Birmingham
- deemed planning permission for the railway
- the power to compulsorily purchase land required for the Phase One route as well as for business relocation and regeneration
- modification of existing legislative controls that are not designed for hybrid bills – this process is based on that used for HS1 and Crossrail
- the ability to nominate a person or organisation to deliver phase one on behalf of the secretary of state for transport.
All those directly or specially affected by the first phase of HS2 can now submit their objections against the bill during the petitioning period. The process provides individuals, groups and organisations an opportunity to oppose the bill or to seek its amendment before a specially-convened select committee in either or both Houses.
Local authorities, excluding parish councils, and businesses will have from 29th April to 16th May to deposit their petitions. Individuals and all other petitioners will have a further week, until 23rd May.
Guidance on petitioning is available from the House of Commons Private Bill Office and on the Parliament website at: www.parliament.uk/business/bills-and-legislation/current-bills/hybrid-bills/hybrid-bills-faqs