The Government proposes to implement a national high speed rail network, linking London with Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. The network would reduce journey times between these locations (and consequently beyond, into Scotland) and would provide direct links to mainland Europe, via connections with the High Speed 1 line, and abroad via a link into Heathrow Airport.
A report into the impact of HS2 on Solihull Borough has called for a significant community fund to be established to provide compensation for impacts that are unavoidable, or that cannot be fully mitigated. The fund would help pay for mitigation measures, ‘off-route’ enhancements and projects.
Called the ‘HS2 Statement of Opportunity’, the report builds upon the Council’s key asks relating to impacts on amenity, landscape, ecology and heritage, amongst others, and looks towards both the construction and operation of the line.
High Speed 2 (HS2) is considered to be important in restoring economic growth within the UK in a manner which will provide a more balanced economy throughout the country. HS2 is also considered to be necessary in responding to, and alleviating, forecast future capacity constraints on the West Coast Main Line.
A specific company to develop and promote the project, HS2 Ltd has been formed.
Solihull Council deposited its petition, regarding the High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill, in Parliament on Friday, 16 May 2014. The petition focuses on concerns regarding the impact of HS2 on the borough and the wider region. It represents an opportunity for the Council to influence the project through consideration by a special House of Commons Select Committee.
Delivery of HS2
The timetable for taking HS2 forward is as follows.
Current consultations are advertised at HS2, whilst our responses to key previous consultations can be viewed below:
HS2 Working Party
We appointed an HS2 Working Party of senior councillors to lead and coordinate our engagement with local communities, businesses and other stakeholders. The party also engages with HS2 Ltd, Government and other relevant bodies.
The remit of the Working Party is targeted towards influencing the design of HS2 to accommodate local needs; it does not extend to the review of the:
- business case for
- alternatives to
HS2 Working Party meeting minutes are detailed at our Council meetings, agendas and minutes page.
Solihull issue register
In order to manage and monitor progress on the issues relevant to the borough, the Working Party has developed the Solihull Issue Register. Providing a summary of all issues raised to date, it is intended to be a ‘rolling document’ that can be used to report progress to the HS2 Working Party.
The register is updated for consideration at each Working Party meeting; as provided below:
Progress Update - August 2013
We have responded to numerous formal and technical consultations throughout the development of HS2, including:
- The principle for High Speed Rail (2009) - We have resolved to support in principle High Speed Rail; recognising the need for a station to serve Birmingham Airport, the National Exhibition Centre and the need for a direct link between HS1 and HS2 to make journeying from the West Midlands to mainland Europe
- Exceptional Hardship Scheme Proposals (2010)
- The principle of HS2 and the proposed route alignment for Phase 1 (2011) - We decided to support the principle of High Speed rail provided economic benefits, environmental mitigation and an appropriate compensation scheme could be achieved
- Draft Code of Construction Practice (2012)
- Environmental Impact Assessment Scope and Methodology (2012)
- Proposals for Blight and Compensation Measures (2012/13)
- Draft Safeguarding Directions (2012/13)
- Draft Environmental Statement (2013)
- Design Refinements (2013)
Through the HS2 Working Party, we have also been lobbying HS2 Ltd through its 'Asks / Propositions' platform to address our concerns throughout the scheme.
In late 2012, we made representation to the Secretary of State for Transport. A cross-party delegation met with Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP to lobby for the scheme to include a deep-bore tunnel at Balsall Common and realignment of the scheme at both Hampton in Arden and Chelmsley Wood.
Guided by local communities, our officers have also worked with, and lobbied, HS2 Ltd throughout the development of its preferred route alignment and have continued involvement with the progression of the HS2 Local Connectivity Package.
Potential Future Work
Following submission of our response to the Draft Environmental Statement and Design Refinements consultations, further work will be required throughout the Hybrid Bill process.
This work is likely to include:
- further developing the SMBC 'Asks'
- working with HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport to include our 'Asks' in the HS2 Hybrid Bill
- reviewing the Hybrid Bill
- responding to the Formal Environmental Statement consultation