Latest Rail News

16.01.17

Camden Council forces DfT to review HS2 Bill amendments

Whitehall has been forced to reconsider its plans for its HS2 Bill after Camden Council complained about the power the amended legislation would give the government over its roads.

Camden argued that last-minute amendments tabled by the government without consultation with the council included proposals that would take away its normal powers over traffic and parking, such as limiting the use of heavy goods vehicles in residential areas and parking restrictions.

The amendments were shelved at the Grand Committee stage in the House of Lords after pressure from the council, highway authorities like Transport for London and Peers.

“We are concerned that the new powers, which would extend to a kilometre outside the Bill limits and have no end date, could potentially compromise the council’s ability to manage our roads safely and impact on the local economy,” a Camden Council statement read.

“We were disappointed that these amendments were introduced so late in the parliamentary process, denying the chance for local authorities and others to petition on them.”

Camden initially raised its concerns about the Bill in a letter to the DfT and has been working with other local authorities along the HS2 route.

After meeting with the council and HS2 Ltd, the DfT has now agreed to review the proposals with the amended drafting set to be published shortly.

“Although the government withdrew the amendments at the Grand Committee stage, it can still re-table them at the next stage of the parliamentary process,” Camden’s statement continued.

“We hope that the revised version of amendments reflects the changes we have urged to make them more acceptable. If the government fails to do this, we will continue to press members of the House of Lords to oppose the amendments.”

Today’s news follows an array of other concerns from the local authority with regards to the planned high-speed line, with the department recently offering Camden new assurances intended to reduce the impact of building HS2 in their area.

Next month, the government is expected to publish its response to the House of Lords Select Committee’s report from last December, which urged HS2 Ltd to offer “fair compensation” to Camden residents over the effects of the scheme.

The third reading of the HS2 Bill is expected by the end of the month when “tidying up” amendments to the legislation can be tabled, after which it will return to the Commons.

It is expected that the Bill will receive Royal Assent in early February.

Comments

Dave Thomson   18/01/2017 at 15:02

Of course Camden, and your "journalist," omitted to mention the reason these amendments have been tabled: It is because some local authority came up with the "wheeze" of changing one of the roads designated for HS construction traffic to a one way street, rendering it unsuitable as a construction route thereby "gumming up" the process and potentially causing construction traffic to have to be diverted elsewhere (of course thence blighting others so far unaffected.) If I recall correctly, the state is seeking amendments to ensure any such acts whether mendacious or serendipitous are notified to the Secretary Of State so he can intervene if need be and prevent local authorities trying to sabotage, or at least drive up the costs of the project "by the back door." HS2 construction routes have been published for some 3 years. If would be hard to believe local authority road planners "weren't aware."

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