16.The Committee has considered all the arguments carefully and recognises that the proposals under consideration will have a direct and substantial effect on those living alongside the proposed route. The announcement of this decision is being made in the interest of transparency as the Committee takes very seriously the need to maintain public confidence in the fairness of the hybrid bill process.
17.The Committee has made several ‘in principle’ decisions to enable it to focus on consequential issues of the scheme and the mitigations that can be made to support those affected. We bear in mind not only whether the proposed mitigation would reduce the impact on the petitioners but also whether the costs imposed on HS2 to achieve that mitigation would be necessary and proportionate.
18.The Committee has made an “in principle” decision to reject petitioners’ preferences to put the whole Whitmore to Madeley Heath section in tunnel (the single tunnel) but reserves the right to review this decision later if any representations made by petitioners (from whom the Committee has not yet heard) indicate any further relevant information. This report reflects decisions made on the preliminary weeks of petitioning.
19.The proposal for the single tunnel is a costly option and the Committee would like to see an undertaking from HS2 to direct its resources instead toward improvements for the local and wider community.
20.Following the request from the Committee to look at the potential for lowering the River Lea viaduct HS2 undertook further work on the scheme. HS2 has found a solution for lowering the height of the viaduct through extending the southern portal and thus lowering the entry point of the tunnel. With this additional work a better and less costly engineering solution has been found for crossing the West Coast Main Line. This will save £12.8m compared with the Bill scheme. The Committee had suggested exploring this option on 27th March and we welcome this proposal and are pleased that HS2 has listened to us.
21.We were impressed by the detailed research conducted by the petitioners who proposed siting the railhead at Aldersey’s Rough. Aldersey’s Rough is located close to Stone, and is a rural non-residential area. However, the amount of additional work that the proposal would require in order to make it a viable solution would be too costly and too disruptive and the Committee was not convinced as to its proposed merits.
22.We welcome the assurance given by HS2 to Sir William Cash MP that HS2 will seek to alleviate the impacts of the railway during both the construction and operation and will consider carefully whether there are things that the ‘nominated undertaker’ is able to change which are not already within the scheme in order to improve performance.
18 The petitioners argued that to move the base to Aldersey’s Rough, a rural piece of land located beside Madeley Heath, would be less disruptive to the residents of Stone compared with the proposed scheme to locate the base at Stone. The proposal involved the repair and re-use of the section of the disused Newcastle-under-Lyme to Market Drayton railway from the junction with the West Coast Main Line to the junction with the proposed maintenance base.
19 HC 927, Minutes of Evidence, 23 April 2018, Q222
Published: 24 May 2018