HS2 Bill sets off on its journey

25 November 2013

The High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill received its first reading today (25 November 2013) in the House of Commons. The provisions of the bill include deemed consents for the project and the powers needed to construct, operate and maintain Phase One of HS2.

A Book of Reference accompanies the bill which identifies the owners and occupiers of the land which will be permanently acquired or temporarily used. Other documents which accompany the bill include an Environmental Statement and plans showing the proposed works.

The bill is a hybrid bill of Parliament. This means that it will follow an established procedure through Parliament before receiving Royal Assent and becoming law. Following today's first reading, there will be a period of consultation on the Environmental Statement ending on 24 January 2014. The bill will then receive its second reading in the Commons when the principles of the bill will be debated and established. After this, a Select Committee of MPs (or a Joint Committee of MPs and Peers) will be constituted. Following this, there will be a period during which time the general public can make objections and representations (known as petitions) in relation to the bill, and which have to be lodged formally with Parliament.

The Select Committee considers all the petitions and may require amendments to be made to the bill; this is followed by a Public Bills Committee which reviews and amends the bill before it has a third reading in the House of Commons. A similar procedure is adopted when the bill reaches the House of Lords, although the Select Committee stage will be omitted if a Joint Committee is established in the Commons. The bill eventually returns to the House of Commons for further consideration and Royal Assent; the Government is hoping to achieve Royal Assent in 2015.

If you are concerned about the implications of HS2 Phase One you should examine the bill and the accompanying documents now with a view to making representations on the Environmental Statement by 24 January 2014, and getting ready to "petition" against the bill shortly afterwards. When petitions are lodged it is common practice for negotiations to take place between the petitioner and the promoters of the bill to try to address concerns through agreements and undertakings instead of amendments to the bill. Wragge & Co's lawyers will be enrolling as parliamentary agents for the bill and will be able to advise on, and make petitions on your behalf, and also handle any negotiations that follow


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