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Hard work begins for HS2 parliamentary committee

Words: Sam Waddicor

Nearly 2,000 petitions have been lodged against the proposed HS2 railway since the bill first passed the Commons in April.

According to the committee in charge of hearing them, 1,925 petitions against the bill were submitted by local authorities, private residents and special interest groups during the petitioning stage.

The select committee, led by Dorset MP Robert Syms, has the power to make amendments to the bill as long as the bill's principle remains intact. The pinciple of HS2 is defined as “the provision of a high speed railway between Euston and a junction with the West Coast Main Line at Handsacre in Staffordshire, with a spur from Water Orton in Warwickshire to Curzon Street in Birmingham and intermediate stations at Old Oak Common and Birmingham Interchange”. The bill itself is a hybrid featuring elements of both public and private bills.

Robbie Owen, a major infrastructure planning law expert said: “The equivalent House of Commons select committee on the Crossrail Bill – the last hybrid bill before this one – was in existence for some 22 months, and so it's clear that the HS2 Select Committee has its work cut out for it, especially bearing in mind that HS2 is much more controversial than Crossrail and it is looking like there are about twice as many petitioners".