FULL STEAM AHEAD

Af­ter three years of de­lib­er­a­tion and de­bate HS2 is fi­nally given royal as­sent

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - TOM HER­BERT tom.her­bert@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @TRHer­bert

HS2 has passed its fi­nal hur­dle af­ter par­lia­ment gave the go-ahead for work on the multi-bil­lion pound project to be­gin. The first phase of the con­tro­ver- sial line re­ceived Royal As­sent on Thurs­day (Fe­bru­ary 23) with work sched­uled to start in the spring.

Joe Rukin, Stop HS2 cam­paign man­ager, said: “In some ways there is a dis­tinct el­e­ment of re­lief that it’s over.

“We’re happy that we did ev­ery- thing that we could. There’s noth­ing we could have done any dif­fer­ent. But there’s still a big job to do to keep HS2 to task dur­ing con­struc­tion.”

The HS2 Phase 1 Hy­brid Bill, the route from Lon­don to Birm­ing­ham, was given the green light af­ter years of par­lia­men­tary scru­tiny.

It was first de­bated in the House of Com­mons in 2014, be­fore be­ing passed to a select com­mit­tee where hun­dreds of pe­ti­tions were heard. MPs passed the bill in its third read­ing in March 2016 and so was sent to the House of Lords.

De­spite a late bid by peers to de- rail the multi-bil­lion pound project, the hy­brid bill it was passed 26-386 dur­ing a third de­bate ear­lier in Jan­uary.

On Mon­day MPs de­bated amend­ments to the bill, which was the fi­nal part of the hy­brid bill process.

Royal As­sent means the bill now be­come an Act of Par­lia­ment, and there­fore law. Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling said: “HS2 will be the world’s most ad­vanced pas­sen­ger rail­way and the back­bone of our rail net­work.

“Royal As­sent is a ma­jor step to­wards sig­nif­i­cantly increasing ca­pac­ity on our con­gested rail­ways for both pas­sen­gers and freight, im­prov­ing con­nec­tions be­tween the big­gest cities and re­gions, gen­er­at­ing jobs, skills and eco­nomic growth and help­ing build an econ­omy that works for all.”

Schemes worth £70mil­lion have been launched for com­mu­ni­ties af­fected by HS2, in­clud­ing the Home­owner Pay­ment, the Com­mu­nity and En­vi­ron­ment Fund (CEF) and the Busi­ness and Lo­cal Econ­omy Fund (BLEF). The Gov­ern­ment says the project will cre­ate 25,000 jobs dur­ing con­struc­tion and 2,000 ap­pren­tice­ships.

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