High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill Contents

2The Bill and the Committee

The HS2 Phase One Hybrid Bill

The Bill and the HS2 railway

4.The High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill contains the proposed legislative powers for building Phase One of the first major rail route north of London since the 19th century. Our interim report outlined the main features of the proposed railway and the history of the Bill. It explained the nature of hybrid bills.3

5.As well as authorising the works needed to build the railway, the Bill contains powers for compulsory acquisition of land and property rights, including subsoil to enable tunnel works, and for temporary land use. The Bill also grants deemed planning permission for the railway.

6.The Bill was promoted by the Department for Transport (‘the Promoter’). The works it provides for will be carried out by one or more Nominated Undertakers. One of these is likely to be HS2 Limited, which has been responsible for design preparation on the railway to date. Others might be involved, such as Network Rail.

7.The Promoter’s expert witnesses were: Professor Andrew MacNaughton, Chief Engineer to the project, Tim Smart, principal engineering witness, Peter Miller, environmental expert, Rupert Thornely-Taylor, noise expert, Colin Smith, compensation expert, and Professor Robert Mair, Baron Mair, expert on ground settlement issues.

Additional provisions

8.Additional provisions are amendments to the Bill powers which go beyond the scope of the original proposals and which may potentially have adverse direct and special effects on particular individuals or bodies, over and above any effects on the general public.4 If they have such effects, they may, like the Bill, be petitioned against. Some new works proposed by the Promoter did not require additional Bill powers but were predicted to give rise to new environmental effects that were assessed as significant. Such works triggered the production of further environmental statements assessing those additional environmental effects. The Bill authorises railway and associated development to the extent of both its scheduled works and the works assessed in the environmental and supplementary environmental statements.5 The works described in the supplementary environmental statements could be petitioned against, because they could be argued to have direct and special adverse effects in certain cases.

9.The Promoter promoted five sets of additional provisions to the Bill. There were four supplementary environmental statements. For convenience, a table of each of the additional provisions and supplementary environmental statements is set out in Annex 2, with a description of their content (in indicative, not comprehensive, terms). It is worth noting that some of the additional works promoted by the Promoter gave effect to compromises reached with affected parties. Additional provisions can therefore be a means of achieving a more generally acceptable programme of works.

10.AP1 related to relatively minor matters such as utility works and footpath diversions. There was no need for an accompanying supplementary environmental statement.

11.AP2 (and SES1) embodied a number of significant improvements to the railway design across the route, including a lowering of the line north of Lichfield to put it under instead of over the A38, vertical realignment of the line near Hints in Staffordshire to drop it deeper into that locality’s wooded landscape, a longer green tunnel6 at Burton Green in Warwickshire, and a bypass at Chipping Warden in Northamptonshire. Three of these changes resulted in part from the Committee process. AP2 also proposed a relocation of the Heathrow Express depot from Old Oak Common to Langley, near Slough, to allow for HS2 construction at Old Oak Common, and a grade separated flyover for the Great Western main line. The latter two changes were notable among issues that were objected to by petitioners.

12.AP3 (and SES 2) split the programme for building the HS2 platforms at Euston station into stages. One purpose was to reduce the impacts on users of the existing railway. The extension of the project duration was not popular with Camden residents. Construction impacts would be experienced over a longer period. Arguably, the change would postpone the overall redevelopment of Euston when compared with the timings permitted by the Bill scheme.

13.AP4 (and SES3) notably contained provisions for the Chilterns bored tunnel extension as directed by the Committee. In addition, AP4 proposed amended construction arrangements in Hillingdon, including a smaller compound at Harvil Road and a new haul road to mitigate traffic impacts. The latter was not without opposition because of its possible impacts on a site of special scientific interest. AP4 also contained provision for moving Water Orton primary school, and passive provision for a Crossrail station interchange at Kensal Portobello which had been pressed for by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea as a potential means to promote regeneration.

14.AP5 related to relatively minor works in several locations along the line, including utility works, car park relocations and public rights of way diversions, together with additional land for the proposed people mover at Birmingham international station. SES4 set out works for a southward extension of the Wendover green tunnel, together with enhanced noise mitigation.

15.The main environmental statement and each of the supplementary environmental statements were the subject of consultation. The responses to those consultations were studied and summarised for the House by an independent assessor. Each of five summary reports was published on the Bill webpage.7

16.Each of the additional provisions and supplementary environmental statements was examined for compliance with the relevant private business standing orders, which include requirements relating to public notification and adequate description of the proposed works.

17.For each of the additional provisions, there were a number of technical non-compliances deriving merely from the timings stipulated by the private business standing orders. (Hybrid bills do not usually comply with all standing order timings (except by happenstance), because the standing orders assume a November starting point and the relevant dates are taken to apply to the year in which the Bill was deposited. The HS2 Additional Provisions spanned two parliamentary Sessions.) The consequent technical non-compliances were reported to the Standing Orders Committees of each House which, in accordance with practice, dispensed with the need to comply with these standing orders so far as they related to the dates set out in them.8

Table 1: Table with date of examinations and Standing Order Committee meetings

Examination

HC SOC

HL SOC

Bill

17.12.13 adjourned and met again 8.1.14

15.1.14

20.1.14

AP1

13.10.14

28.10.14

4.11.14

AP2

15.9.15

25.11.15
(AP2 & 3)

1.12.15
(AP2 & 3)

AP3

20.10.15 & 29.10.15

AP4

24.11.15

8.12.15

9.12.15

AP5

15.1.16

26.1.16

27.1.16

18.On AP1, in addition to the technical non-compliances, the Promoter omitted to post a number of notices in the affected areas of Finmere and Mixbury. This was rectified with a further petitioning period, requiring an Order of the House.9 On AP2, the Promoter omitted to provide certain environmental data (some 77 pages) relating to bat populations. The omitted data showed effects that were actually less adverse than the incomplete data, so essentially no potential prejudice flowed from the omission. The Promoter nevertheless extended the consultation period and the Standing Orders Committees dispensed with the non-compliance. On AP3, there was a memorial (a complaint of non-compliance with standing orders) from the Camden Cutting Group, alleging substantive non-compliance through failure to provide adequate detail on the proposed cuttings works. The Examiners did not accept this complaint.

19.On AP4/SES3, the Chilterns Society complained of substantive non-compliance with the need for a satisfactory environmental statement through failure to provide full and accurate traffic data (23 out of 245 pages had either incorrect data or references to incorrect data). The Examiners rejected the substantive complaint on the basis that the resulting traffic assessment was unaffected, but found procedural non-compliance on the grounds of the missing data. The Promoter re-opened the consultation period, and the Standing Orders Committees accordingly dispensed with the non-compliance. There was one substantive non-compliance in relation to AP5. When this was noted by the Examiners the Promoters indicated that Ministers would not proceed with the amendment concerned, which related to bridleway provision.

20.Despite their ultimate willingness to dispense with these various more substantial non-compliances on the basis of extended consultation periods, the Commons Standing Orders Committee deprecated the omissions and errors, following as they did a similar incident with the Bill, to which our interim report of 2014–15 referred.10

21.The House passed motions instructing us to consider each of the additional provisions and supplementary environmental statements.11 We accepted the case for each of the proposed sets of additional provisions on the basis of assurances provided by the Promoter. The additional provisions were not formally accepted by the Committee until the end of the petitioning hearings. They are made formally to the Bill as we report it to the House.

The Committee

Changes in Committee membership

22.Before the May 2015 General Election, our members were Robert Syms MP, appointed to chair the Committee, Henry Bellingham MP (as he then was), Sir Peter Bottomley MP, Ian Mearns MP, Yasmin Qureshi MP and Michael Thornton MP. Michael Thornton was not returned to Parliament at the election. We are most grateful for his conscientious contribution and support. By Order of the House of 7 July 2015, Ian Mearns MP and Yasmin Qureshi MP were discharged from the Committee and Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP, David Crausby MP and Mark Hendrick MP were appointed. The new members confirmed that they had no personal or constituency interest in the Bill. They were briefed by the Clerk and the Promoter on procedure, petitioning, the proposed route, tunnelling and engineering, noise and compensation, and took part in familiarisation visits.

23.We pay tribute to the astute chairmanship of Robert Syms, and to the informal deputy Chairs, Ian Mearns and David Crausby. We thank Sir Henry Bellingham for acting as our informal Whip.

Previous Committee Members

Committee programme and decision making

Programme

24.Following the General Election, we picked up on the work of our predecessor Committee, beginning with the matter of the Colne Valley viaduct and whether it should be replaced with a tunnel. Having heard the petitions on that issue, we announced on 15 July 2015 that we were not convinced by the arguments for replacing the viaduct with a tunnel. The cost estimates were high (almost certainly more than £200m), and would clearly have remained high even with greater scrutiny, which we decided was not merited. We said that the priority should be on mitigating construction and traffic impacts in the Hillingdon area. South Buckinghamshire will be affected in like manner. Our concerns translated into the form of works improvements contained in AP4, which we considered in January 2016.

25.Toward the end of July 2015 we considered the case for the proposed Chilterns long tunnel as made by some of its principal exponents. We announced on 21 July 2015 that we had not been convinced by the case for the Chilterns long tunnel as articulated by those petitioning bodies. We noted in passing that, had there been an overwhelming case for the long tunnel, we would have expected to have heard it from those principal protagonists. The arguments for and against the long tunnel proceeded on the basis of more finely balanced points. We directed preparation of an additional provision for a northward extension of the bored tunnel in the Chilterns, for reasons set out in our discussion of the Chilterns tunnel arguments below. As noted previously, this extension became part of AP4. We requested a review of noise mitigation in Wendover. The resulting proposals became part of SES4

26.In September 2015, we heard from the many hundreds of Chilterns petitioners whose petitions mostly took the form of somewhat generic objections and mitigation requests. Many pressed passionately the case for a long Chilterns tunnel. We heard other Chilterns and Buckinghamshire petitioners in October and November 2015, with further fervent argument in favour of a long tunnel, and discussion of other issues, including possible traffic problems. We heard substantial argument about the relative merits of the Chilterns northward tunnel extension in November 2015 and January 2016, including from petitioners against AP4. The benefits of AP4 relative to the Bill scheme were broadly accepted. Many petitioners persisted with their arguments for the long tunnel.

27.In December 2015, we heard petitions from Camden and Euston, including petitions on AP3.

28.In November and December 2015 and January 2016 we considered locus standi challenges to AP2, AP4 and AP5 (SES4) petitions. As we explain in the chapter of this report on locus standi, many—although not all—of these petitions were allegations not that the additional provisions were harmful but that they did not adequately deal with complaints against the Bill itself. Broadly, we upheld the locus challenges in these cases on the basis that complaints against the Bill were ‘live’ until this final report. Additional provision petitions should be about alleged adverse effects of the additional provision, not whether the additional provision is not good enough in addressing the effects of the Bill.

29.AP2 and AP4 petitions not already heard were programmed for January 2016. These included petitions against the relocation of the Heathrow Express depot to Langley. They also included petitions in relation to the revised construction arrangements in Hillingdon and South Buckinghamshire. AP5 petitions, which mainly concerned noise mitigation in Wendover, were heard in February 2016.

30.The high numbers of petitioners prompted some prognostications of programming doom. Petitioners did not often need to sit late with us into the evening. We are grateful to those petitioners who responded positively to our exhortations regarding grouping and association, and marshalling of arguments. This helped avoid going over familiar ground.

31.Many petitioners wanted to attend the proceedings in person to show support for fellow petitioners, with especially high numbers from the Chilterns and Camden. We had space in the committee room for about 40 members of the public. At our request the House authorities provided a spill-over room for several weeks in September and December 2015 and briefly again in January 2016. This helped address an important element of participation: as had been predicted to us by the Speaker, some petitioners were content not to address the Committee on the basis that they nevertheless attended and were recognised as having attended.

Form of decisions and Bill amendments

32.This report contains general recommendations as well as recommendations on specific petitions. During the hybrid bill process, the Promoter has also offered significant assurances in individual cases, as well as generally.12 The Bill itself contained substantial mitigation against adverse effects. Additional provisions have set forth further mitigation. It can be assumed that, in cases we do not expressly mention, we were content not to intervene on the position taken by the Promoter by way of the mitigation in the Bill itself, the additional provisions, general assurances, the specific assurances offered by the Promoter to petitioners and/or the position as it stood following the Government’s response to our 2014–15 interim report.

33.Many of our directions have been effected through assurances and/or negotiated settlement of one sort or another rather than requiring changes to the Bill language.13 For instance, we wanted to flag that a spur to Heathrow will not be implemented in construction of HS2. That will take effect through a direction that the relevant Bill powers for passive provision will not be exercised, rather than through Bill amendments. The additional provisions required substantial amendments. Counsel for the Promoter presented us with a list of these and described their scope. We have noted above how these are dealt with procedurally.

34.We have published the formal minutes of the Committee separately. These record petitioners’ hearings dates.14

Acknowledgments

35.We greatly appreciate the contributions of parliamentary colleagues and their staff who have so assiduously supported and promoted the interests of their constituents. They helped us identify their foremost concerns. Dealing with HS2 caseloads has been a major undertaking. In some constituencies it has been a full-time job for Members’ staff. The HS2 committee support team led by Lucy Lagerweij has performed an outstanding job, under great pressure. The programme manager, David Walker, has been a model of efficiency, tact and good humour. He has been praised publicly by many petitioners. We pay tribute to the good-natured responsiveness and professionalism of the Promoter’s counsel and expert witnesses.

36.Many parts of the House service assisted us ably in achieving our schedule, including the Doorkeepers, the security staff, the Hansard reporters, the broadcasting and sound staff, and the catering staff, who provided evening food for the public for heavily attended sessions, on several occasions at short notice. The Committee assistants Miguel Boo Fraga and Michelle Garratty merit particular thanks for their reliability, tenacity, patience and good humour over nearly two years of proceedings. They very capably administered hundreds of hours of petition hearings, often simultaneously with the petitioning deposit processes for the five separate sets of additional provisions, several of which happened almost back-to-back (if not simultaneously). Many hundreds of petitioners were welcomed to the Committee corridor. Huge amounts of evidence and programme material needed organising and publishing when the Committee was not actually sitting. They took on and accomplished that task conscientiously.

37.We gratefully acknowledge too the contribution of others from across the House service who volunteered to assist in accepting petitions on a rota basis during petitions deposit periods, sacrificing recess days or days in their regular workplaces to help out. Their contribution was vital. We are grateful to Neil Caulfield, Clerk to this Committee. His legal experience, good humour, and constant energy, together with his wisdom and common sense, have made it possible for us to carry forward our duties. We understand the high regard in which he has been held by petitioners. We thank him for leading his team and we thank them all together for their resilience and help in making possible the fulfilment of our responsibilities during hearings and in producing this report.



3 High Speed Rail (London - West Midland) Bill Select Committee, First Special Report of Session 2014–15, HC 338

4 HS2 Ltd, Information Paper, B8: Additional Provisions, (October 2015)

5 Clauses 19 and 63

6 A green tunnel is a type of cut and cover tunnel

8 The proceedings of the Commons Standing Orders Committee can be found here:
www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/standing-orders/
Those of the Lords can be found at:
www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/lords-select/standing-orders/

9 Votes and Proceedings, 28 October 2014, p 396

10 HC (2014–15) 338, para 11

11 The dates of the Standing Orders Committees meetings are indicated in Annex 2

13 The changes to Clause 47 discussed below are an exception.

14 See Committee website. Evidence from proceedings was also published there. ‘P’ numbers designate Promoter evidence; ‘A’ numbers designate petitioner evidence.




© Parliamentary copyright 2015

Prepared 29 February 2016