High speed rail: overview
As a county council, we remain focused on getting the best deal for Staffordshire in terms of mitigation, compensation for residents, economic benefits and improved connectivity.
We petitioned against Phase 1 (London – West Midlands) and successfully achieved the lowering of 8 km of the line in Lichfield. We also secured an assurance that the Handsacre link, connecting HS2 to the West Coast Main Line, would be constructed. This will provide the infrastructure needed for Staffordshire to receive HS2 services and benefit economically.
We also petitioned against the Phase 2a (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill in Parliament and achieved several improvements to the existing mitigation including an assurance to lower the line of route as it passes near Kings Bromley on viaduct, and a multi-million pound package of highways improvements.
On Wednesday 21 August 2019 the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps published the terms of reference and timetable for an independent review into the High Speed 2 project, known as the Oakervee Review. Ths independently-led government review considered whether and how HS2 should proceed. Its report was published on 11 February 2020.
The Oakervee Review recommended that all phases of the scheme should proceed, with some changes to optimise design, reduce costs and improve governance arrangements. It recommended that the Handsacre Link be removed. This recommendation was not accepted by government.
What are the timescales for this phase?
The Phase One hybrid bill was submitted to parliament in November 2013. It has completed the Parliamentary process in both houses and received Royal Assent in February 2017. Royal Assent is when the Queen formally agrees to make the Bill an Act of Parliament. It granted deemed planning permission for the construction, operation and maintenance of HS2 Phase One.
The first part of construction, the enabling works (for example, archaeology, utilities diversions, early planting), is ongoing. The Notice to Proceed, which gives formal approval for commencement of the main civil engineering works, was given by government on 15 April 2020. HS2 Ltd have stated that construction will begin in line with Public Health England advice during the coronavirus outbreak.
On the same day, the Department for Transport published an updated Full Business Case for High Speed 2 Phase One, setting out the strategic and economic case for the project.
The line is expected to open to passengers between 2029 - 2033.
For more information please visit the HS2 website.
What will the new line do?
Link London to the West Midlands with a connection onto the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre in Lichfield. In Staffordshire, the railway will pass through Lichfield District and through the Parishes of Drayton Bassett, Hints, Weeford, Swinfen and Packington, Whittington, Fradley and Streethay, and Kings Bromley. The 12 mile railway through Lichfield joins the West Coast Main Line near to Handsacre.
‘Classic compatible’ high speed services will run from Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford, starting on the West Coast Main Line then joining the high speed line via the Handsacre link.
Find out about the environmental impact of the new line.
Can I petition against this phase?
No, petitioning on Phase One has now closed. Petitions made against the bill are on the HS2 bill select committee website
As a result of our petition we received four assurances from HS2 Ltd. We continue to work through the remaining items in our petition to reach the best possible outcome.
View the assurances and undertakings.
Can I claim compensation?
The residents’ charter and further information on the compensation schemes are available on the .gov website.
On 30 November 2015, then Chancellor, George Osborne confirmed the accelerated route from the West Midlands to Crewe, referred to as Phase 2a. It is expected that Phase 2a will open between 2032-33. This is subject to its own Hybrid Bill, which was deposited in Parliament on 17 July 2017.
The Bill seeks powers to build the route from the West Midlands through Staffordshire to Crewe. As part of this, a full Environmental Statement (ES) was produced. This was subject to a ten week consultation, offering members of the public the opportunity to comment. This closed on 30 September 2017. We submitted a joint response (802 KB) with Lichfield District Council, Stafford Borough Council and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council.
The Bill received its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 30 January 2018. This triggered a petitioning period which ran until 26 February 2018. The County Council petitioned on a range of matters (some jointly alongside district and borough councils).
The Department for Transport deposited an additional provision (AP1) to the Bill on Friday 23 March 2018. Petitioning against AP1 closed on Friday 27 April 2018. We submitted a response to the consultation (455 KB) but did not petition the additional provision. View AP1 documents.
The Department for Transport deposited a second additional provision (AP2) to the Bill on Friday 8 February 2019. Petitioning against AP2 closed on Friday 15 March 2019. The County Council submitted a response to the consultation (773 KB), and also petitioned the additional provision.
View AP2 documents.
You can view further information on the Bill’s progress through parliament.
The expected date of royal assent is currently unclear due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
At this stage no construction routes have formally been approved by the County Council and any highway improvements proposed by HS2 Ltd. will need to be designed by HS2 Ltd. and approved by the County Council as stated in the Hybrid Bill. All designs must pass an independent road safety audit.
Although we have the right to object (on minimal grounds) to the use of construction traffic routes where there are more than 24 movements a day, if agreement cannot be reached with HS2 Ltd the matter will need to be referred to the Secretary of State for Transport for a decision.
What will the new line do?
Introduce a new line north from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds. It will provide 211 miles of new railway line and new stations linking the West Midlands, North West, East Midlands and Yorkshire.
View the route map for West Midlands to Leeds and Manchester.
The consultation for this route took place between July 2013 and January 2014.
We prepared joint responses to the route consultation:
Can I petition against this phase?
No. Petitioning on this Phase has now closed. Some outstanding petitions remain to be heard by the House of Lords.
Second Reading in the House of Commons took place on 30 January 2018. This triggered a petitioning period which ran until 26 February 2018. We petitioned on a range of matters including PRoW. View the petition document.
A shortlist of key items was taken forward to Select Committee. We appeared on the 23 April on its headline item, the Whitmore to Madeley tunnel extension. The decision of the Select Committee on this matter was that they would not wish to recommend a tunnel at this stage. View a copy of the Select Committee’s first report.
The Council was scheduled to appear on its remaining items on 8 May 2018. These included Highways matters such as routing construction traffic out of Lichfield City Centre, minimisation of use of Yarnfield Lane and Beaconside, a suite of measures on the Stone railhead/IMB-R and protection of veteran trees and hedgerows, among other items. Following robust negotiations with HS2 Ltd., supported by our parliamentary agent and QC, a suite of assurances and undertakings on key items have now been agreed. Consequently, the Council did not appear at Select Committee on 8 May. The Council has reserved its position in relation to the point on land use and timing at Rugeley Power Station.
Negotiating assurances in this way retains control in the hands of the Council as far as possible. Should the Council have elected to appear at Committee, it is quite possible that all the offers from HS2 Ltd. would have been withdrawn, or at the very least reduced in number.
Petitioning in the House of Lords closed on 16 August 2019. The County Council has not submitted a petition to the House of Lords.
Can I claim compensation?
The exceptional hardship scheme can help property owners who are affected by the proposals for the Phase Two line of route. The residents’ charter and further information on other compensation schemes are available on the Gov.UK website.
View more about the exceptional hardship scheme on the Gov.Uk website.
A consultation on the exceptional hardship scheme was launched on 28 January 2013 and ended on 20 May 2013. We submitted a joint local response:
A further consultation was launched in November 2015, seeking the views of the public on the proposal to implement the same long-term property assistance schemes for this section as for Phase One. We prepared a joint response with Lichfield District Council, Stafford Borough Council and Newcastle Borough Council, which can be viewed below.
View HS2 Ltd.’s response summary report.
Phase 2a consultations
In September 2016, HS2 Ltd. issued a set of consultations relating to the Phase 2a line of route: from Fradley to Crewe. These were:
- HS2 Phase 2a (West Midlands to Crewe) Working Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report consultation. This presented draft environmental information based on the current stage of design and assessment of Phase 2a. It included a description of the existing environment; an evaluation of the anticipated environmental impacts of the scheme; and the measures proposed to manage these impacts.
The authority’s joint response can be viewed below:
- HS2 Phase 2a (West Midlands to Crewe) Working Draft Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) Report consultation. This presented draft equality information based on the current stage of design of the Proposed Scheme.
- HS2 Phase 2a (West Midlands to Crewe) Design Refinement consultation. This covered three changes deemed significant enough to consult on separate to the main draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA); one of which is in Staffordshire. This is the construction of a temporary railhead near Stone, which potentially could be converted to a permanent maintenance facility.
The authority’s joint response can be viewed below:
What is the fund?
Each County Councillor whose division is affected by the line of route of Phase 2a has been allocated a budget of £3,500 to support the communities affected by the route. County Councillors who are indirectly affected have been allocated a budget of £500 for the same purpose. Application criteria will mirror those for the Phase One fund, as follows:
Councillors can use the fund to:
- Raise awareness. For example, producing information leaflets publicising HS2 consultations, mitigation, HS2 community newsletters and notification of public meetings/events.
- Hire village halls/venues and the production of mitigation documents and plans.
- Fund reasonable transport costs to support participation in the Phase 2a parliamentary process.
Councillors cannot use the fund to:
- Hire experts or consultants.
- Fund travel expenses without agreement by the Director of Strategy, Governance and Change.
- Fund hotel expenses or subsistence costs.
- Support or promote any national campaign.
Can I apply for less than the cost of my proposal?
Yes, but we can't pay a grant unless you've raised or secured the rest of the funds. If your County Councillor recommends funding which is less than you have asked for, they must know how you will raise or secure any shortfall between what they are recommending, and the total amount needed for your proposal.
Apply for funding
Before applying, please contact your local Councillor to talk about your request. They will see if your proposal could be put forward for consideration, and check that they have the funds required to support your application. Please note that funding cannot be allocated as a lump sum payment. This means that an application will need to be submitted each time funding is required.
You can apply for funding by completing the form below and sending it to your local Councillor.
Who approves the funding?
The Director of Corporate Services normally approves a proposal by a Local Member to spend from his/her HS2 allocation unless:
- The proposal is one which is reserved to the County Council under Appendix 1 of this Constitution.
- It is contrary to a County Council or Cabinet policy.
- The Director of Director of Corporate Services advises it is unlawful.
- It is a matter which would involve a payment or support to national HS2 campaign groups, or would contravene any of the other exclusions listed above.
- It would create an on-going financial commitment.
- It relates to a function which is the legal responsibility of another statutory body or organisation.
What is needed for approval?
It is expected that applications for grant money will include supporting information showing expected costs, including estimates from third party organisations where relevant. On receipt of an application, the County Council reserves the right to request further evidence demonstrating that expenditure is in line with the terms and conditions of the scheme.
How is payment made?
Payment of grants will be made via BACS transfer to an action group or Parish Council bank account. Transfer will not be made to individuals, except
in the case of travel expenses relating to Select Committee. Travel receipts
and evidence of appearance at committee must be provided. In any financial year, no proposal to spend an allocation of the fund will be approved after 31 January of that financial year.
Can payments be granted for past actions?
After discussion and approval with the Local Member, payments can be made for past actions under the scheme. All applications for these payments must be submitted with proof of expenditure, e.g. receipts and invoices. Applications for retrospective payments must be received within three months from the date the money was spent.
The Director of Corporate Services may issue further guidance as necessary.
What's the latest?
On Wednesday 21 August 2019 the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps published the terms of reference and timetable for an independent review into the High Speed 2 project report will inform the government’s decisions on next steps for the project.
Where is the route going?
View the Phase One Route through Staffordshire.
On 30 November 2015, then Chancellor, George Osborne confirmed the accelerated route from the West Midlands to Crewe, which will be referred to as Phase 2a. On 17 July 2017, the hybrid Bill for the section of route was deposited to Parliament. It is currently passing through the House of Lords.
View further information on the route.
What are we doing?
- Engaging with HS2 Ltd. to help get the best deal for Staffordshire.
- Continuing to invest in our current infrastructure.
- Talking to Parish Councils, local groups and residents to make sure the Government and HS2 Ltd. hear our concerns.
- Supporting affected communities at HS2 Ltd. organised and other community meetings.
- Managing detailed consents and approvals for the construction of Phase One, and preparing for the main civil engineering works to commence during 2020.
How do I contact SCC on HS2 related matters?
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s happening next?
Construction for the main civil engineering works on Phase One have now commenced. For details please visit HS2 Ltd.’s Commonplace website for Staffordshire.
Royal Assent for Phase 2a is now expected at the end of 2020, but this is dependent on the progress of the Covid-19 pandemic. Following Royal Assent, further detailed design will then take place and enabling works will commence.
The Oakervee Review stated that further study is to be undertaken on Phase 2b, which will be part of an ’integrated railway investment programme’. Changes will be made to the Bill before deposit, which will not be deposited in its current form.
You can find general information on the Gov.UK website, HS2 Ltd's own web pages and information about HS2 in Staffordshire on the HS2 Staffordshire Commonplace website.