I am today (10 March 2016) publishing the department’s response to the ‘Second special report’ from the Select Committee for the HS2 Phase One hybrid Bill that was published on 22 February 2016.
The Select Committee was tasked with considering petitions from those specially and directly affected by the bill and subsequent additional provisions to the bill. Their Second special report marked the culmination of over 18 months of Committee deliberations which began in July 2014. Over the course of the Select Committee process, 2,586 petitions were lodged against the original bill and the subsequent 5 additional provisions to the bill. The Select Committee heard approximately 1,600 of those petitions in formal session, with the remainder withdrawing, or choosing not to appear before the Select Committee, mainly as a result of successful prior negotiation with HS2 Ltd.
Where the Select Committee considered it appropriate to do so, they suggested modifications to the bill powers, the provision of specific undertakings and assurances to petitioners or the provision of additional mitigation works. During the Select Committee process, 5 additional provisions were made to the bill and many of these contained further mitigation measures that were agreed with petitioners and the Select Committee during the course of the hearings. The Select Committee’s recent report summarises their hearings and contains further general recommendations as well as recommendations on specific petitions in relation to those issues where they felt an intervention was required.
In responding to the Select Committee, we have endeavoured to be as constructive as possible and have similarly aimed to confine our responses to those areas of the report where it seemed beneficial to note our agreement to the recommendation or to offer a clarification, where appropriate.
Alongside the response to the Select Committee report, we are also publishing a number of additional documents today. These are the:
The Statement of reasons command paper, which is titled the ‘Government overview of the case for HS2 Phase One and its environmental impacts’, is required by Parliamentary Standing Order 224A in order to assist the House during the third reading of the HS2 Phase One hybrid Bill. This document summarises the work that has already been done to assess, control and mitigate the environmental impacts of HS2 Phase One, and explains why the government continues to take the view that the HS2 Phase One project is worthy of its support.
Two equalities impact assessment (EQIA) updates were published for consultation in 2015 to take account of changes to the Phase One Bill scheme made by the additional provisions to the bill. The summary report that is being published today provides HS2 Ltd’s response to issues raised by consultation responses received on the two EQIA updates. I am also placing some supporting documents into the House libraries and these are the original hybrid bill EQIA, the EQIA update consultations for Euston and the EQIA update consultation on the remainder of the Phase One route and the summaries of responses to both consultations.
The Phase One hybrid Bill was assessed for compliance against the Water framework directive (WFD) objectives in a series of published documents. Since then, the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled in favour of a challenge against a WFD objective assessment process. In doing so, the Court of Justice clarified the way in which compliance with the directive’s key environmental objectives should be interpreted in the assessment of new developments and scheme proposals. In light of the ruling, the WFD assessment for the proposed scheme has been reviewed and updated and we are publishing this today.
Copies of the Response to the Select Committee can be found on the GOV.UK. website. Copies of the Statement of reasons, the Equalities impact assessment consultation response report, together with supporting documents, and the Water framework directive assessment update will be made available in the libraries of both Houses.