28.The Bill provides for a new double track railway line from a junction with Phase One of High Speed 2 near Fradley Wood in the West Midlands, to a junction with the West Coast Main Line near Crewe in Cheshire. It will be approximately 58 km (36 miles) long. It is proposed that the HS2 Phase 2b Crewe to Manchester high speed line will connect here. A railhead and infrastructure maintenance base will be built in Stone in Staffordshire. HS2 trains may be up to 200 metres long and can be coupled to run as trains 400 metres long. This is a considerable engineering project. HS2 services are expected to operate between 5am and midnight from Mondays to Saturdays and between 8am and midnight on Sundays. We were told by HS2 that engineering works and maintenance will take place outside operational times unless of an urgent nature.
29.Phase 2a has 27 km of embankments, 28 km of cuttings, 6 km of viaducts and 3 km of tunnels. There will be 980 metre long viaduct at Kings Bromley and a 15 metre high and 1.9 km long viaduct over the River Trent; there will also be viaducts at Great Haywood over the Macclesfield to Colwich railway, the River Trent and the Trent and Mersey canal, a viaduct at Meaford and a viaduct crossing the West Coast Mainline and Madeley Chord and the out of use Stone to Market Drayton railway line.
30.The Secretary of State has given an assurance that he will acquire no more land than is needed for the Scheme. Clause 4 of the Bill allows for the compulsory purchase of land. The Bill contains lists of the parcels of land required for the construction and operation of the railway and these reflect the overall land requirements. The Bill allows for land to be taken temporarily as well as permanently. Where this happens there is a statutory requirement for financial compensation to be paid to the landowners. Land take may be no greater than is provided for in the deposited plans and the Additional Provisions.
31.The Bill includes powers to carry out reinstatement and environmental works which may include noise protection barriers and visual screening to ease the impact on the local landscape. It also contains environmental controls in addition to existing environmental legislation. The Scheme aims to return additional land taken to agricultural use once the works are completed, with the majority of the original land taken by the Scheme handed back for productive agricultural use once the railway has been built.
32.Land acquired by HS2 will be used for different purposes. Some land will be taken for the railway tracks, and some for worksite and worksite accommodation while building the railway. The plans include land to be taken for “environmental mitigation” (for the planting of trees and creation of nature habitats) and some for “balancing ponds”. Land will also be required for “borrow pits”, to excavate material for creating embankments along the route. Land that is no longer required for construction, worksite or other use, will be offered back to the original owner in line with the Land Disposal Policy. Some sites will not materially change and no new railway works will be constructed there. Such sites can often be returned to their original use with the landowners’ consent. The Secretary of State may take such lands temporarily rather than acquiring the freehold interest. Where the nature of the sites will materially change (e.g. through demolition of existing buildings or construction of railway works on the site) or where land or property is planned to be developed, the freehold interest will be acquired.
33.The Committee decided that the best way to understand the impact on the local environment and communities was to visit the area. We did so in March 2018. We invited Sarah Mallen, HS2 Project Manager, Staffordshire County Council, and Clive Thomson, Commissioner for the Connected and Sustainable County, from Staffordshire County Council, to accompany us to inform us of the local perspective. We also invited Elisabeth Ellis, Select Committee Manager, Michael Dalton, Project Manager, Tim Smart, Engineering Consultant, and Peter Miller, Environmental Consultant from HS2 to accompany us to outline the plans for Phase 2a.
34.The Committee travelled by minibus from Birmingham International railway station along the proposed route from South to North. Parts of the visit required us to view the route from afar, across fields, as direct access was not available without intruding onto individuals’ land. We visited Fradley Junction, where the HS2 Phase 2a route begins, and the sites of the Kings Bromley, River Trent and Great Haywood viaducts. We also examined the proposed area of the Stone Infrastructure Maintenance Base, saw the disused Stoke to Market Drayton Railway and looked at the alternative Aldersey’s Rough site proposed by petitioners for the infrastructure maintenance base. We also looked at the sites for the Whitmore Heath and Madeley Tunnels and the Crewe interchange. During the visit we were shown highways, ancient woodland, sites for borrow pits and balancing ponds, as well as sites for construction compounds and environmental mitigation planting, on all of which we subsequently heard petitions.
35.Following the publication of AP2, the Chairman and Sandy Martin MP visited Staffordshire and Cheshire in order to view the changes proposed by HS2 and were accompanied by Hayley Kirkham from Cheshire East Council and Clive Thomson from Staffordshire County Council. They looked at Handsacre Junction, Common Lane, the Rugeley Power Station site, the route of the proposed double pylon lines, the proposed site for Newlands Lane substation (the Parkgate connection route), Parkgate connection site, the proposed site for the roundabout outside Yarlet School, and the proposed route changes at Tittensor Road Junction. The visit ended at Crewe Station where they were told about the proposed changes to the platform.
36.The Chair reported back to the Committee so that we had a better understanding of the likely impact of AP2 on the area as well as to conduct a review of the decisions that we had made in our Special Reports in May and July of last year.
18 Schedule 1 (1)(a)
19 Note from HS2 dated 9 May 2019
20 HS2 Paper C4: Land Acquisition Policy, para 23
21 Along with Schedules 6, 7 and 8
23 Balancing ponds act as a temporary storage facility for watercourses such as streams so that water is not discharged directly into the watercourse, which could cause flooding, instead the water is stored in a balancing pond..
24 C4: para 4.4 and HS2 Information paper C6: Disposal of Surplus Land and Over-site Development.
25 In considering the question of material change, the Secretary of State will apply the approach set out in the Crichel Down Rules. C4: para 4.3
Published: 7 June 2019