FULL STEAM AHEAD
After three years of deliberation and debate HS2 is finally given royal assent
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.