High Speed 2 [HS2]
In February 2017, Parliament granted Royal Assent to the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Act, confirming construction of the first phase of the HS2 rail line. This will link London and Birmingham, with a second phase under consideration to extend on to Manchester and Leeds.
South Bucks District Council continues to maintain strong opposition to the scheme, and has repeatedly called for a halt to all enabling works until the Notice to Proceed has been granted. We have also recently submitted evidence to the government review into HS2's future supporting the cancellation of the whole project.
Despite our efforts, the scheme is still currently due to go ahead. Therefore, at this stage of proceedings, we recognise the need to secure the best possible mitigation. Our officers are involved in the determination of Schedule 17 and Section 61 applications, which are outlined in detail below. Through petitioning, we also secured the creation of the Colne Valley Regional Park Panel to contribute to the design of key assets in the railway and propose additional mitigation projects.
Approximate Timeframe for HS2:
2028 - 2031: Staged opening of Phase One
2026 - 2028: Commissioning and testing
2020 - 2026: Construction of the railway
Late 2019: Notice to Proceed expected to be granted
2017 - 2020: Early works
Schedule 17 Consents:
The High Speed Rail Act grants deemed planning permission for HS2 Phase One of the route, but some of the detailed design and construction is subject to further approval. Schedule 17 to the Act puts in place a process for the approval of certain matters relating to the design and construction of the railway.
It requires that the nominated undertaker (HS2 Ltd) seeks approval for matters of construction and design from the appropriate planning authority. Schedule 17 submissions are not the same as planning applications - planning permission for the proposed work has already been granted by the High Speed Rail Act.
Section 61 Consents:
The Control of Pollution Act (CoPA) gives local authorities powers in relation to noisy works on construction sites. The HS2 Act does not remove these, although it has made subtle changes to the way in which CoPA related disagreements are resolved. If a dispute arises, then the final arbiter will be the Secretary of State rather than the courts.
Normally Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils would have 28 days to consider a consent application, but this is not long enough for complicated applications. Consequently, through the petitioning process, the Councils have secured an undertaking that HS2 will engage early to seek agreement on provision of noise mitigation (e.g double glazing, temporary rehousing, hours of work, site screening, equipment to be used) to demonstrate that the "best practicable means" (BPM) for reducing noise from construction activities will be used.
During negotiations with others, Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils proposed an innovative "statement of expectations", which was accepted by the promoters as a mutually beneficial way of managing construction noise impacts
Colne Valley Regional Park Panel:
The Colne Valley Regional Park Panel was formalised through a legal assurance provided by HS2 following considerable efforts during the petitioning process in the Houses of Parliament. The Council put forward a significant case to the Select Committee, highlighting the special nature to the protected area known as the Colne Valley Regional Park.
The Select Committee appreciated the protected area and recommended approval of a formal Panel which would work collaboratively and in a timely manner to consider the following:
1. Develop and co-ordinate recommendations to the relevant local planning authorities regarding HS2 Ltd's proposed landscape design within the Colne Valley Regional Park;
2. Develop and co-ordinate recommendations to HS2 Ltd for appropriate 'Additional Mitigation Measures' for both the construction period and subsequent operation of the railway, subject to the accepted limitation that proposals 'do not unreasonably impact on the timely, economic and safe delivery and operation of the railway';
3. Review proposals, such as the Colne Valley viaduct design, which are put forward by HS2 Ltd and other bodies, and co-ordinate recommendations across its members to the relevant planning authorities;
4. To proactively input to and review design principles, policies and guidance produced by or on behalf of HS2 Ltd for the Colne Valley Regional Park.
Councils HS2 Information