HS2 and Lichfield District

Our response to HS2 and phase 2

We have maintained a strong and principled objection since 2012.

About HS2 phase 1

Following work developing a route design and evaluating the impacts of the proposals, the government laid before parliament a hybrid bill seeking the legislative powers to build and operate HS2 Phase 1 in November 2013.

On 15 May 2014 we formally petitioned parliament setting out our concerns about the HS2 hybrid bill and asked for key changes. Read our petition.

On 23 February 2017, royal assent was granted by parliament for the construction and operation of a high speed rail link between London Euston and Handsacre, Lichfield District - HS2 Phase 1.

We have worked with parliamentary agents, Staffordshire County Council and other parties throughout the development of the plans for Phase 1 to minimise any adverse impacts to residents of the district and the environment of the construction and operation of the rail link. 

The HS2 Phase 1 Act and the related supporting assurances and undertakings & agreed guidance reflects the council’s involvement in the process, as much as has been permitted.

Following royal assent, the nominated undertaker - HS2 Limited began working up its implementation plans for construction of the railway. This will involve HS2 securing the necessary detailed consents for aspects of the route design and construction e.g. bridges, plant, highway routes and carrying out necessary preparatory or enabling works. 

As local planning authority, Lichfield District Council has agreed to be a qualifying authority (as has Staffordshire County Council as highways authority) for the purpose of assessing the detailed proposals, meaning it will have more say in what can and cannot be built/developed – this does not however override the principle of development of the railway which was granted by the Act. Schedule 17 consent applications have begun being submitted to the council for its determination.

Separately, HS2 Limited is putting together information which will help the local authorities and local communities understand the timing and nature of activities associated with the construction of the railway. 

Community engagement strategies will be produced alongside work programmes explaining planned actions. These will be made available to view on a new and dedicated HS2 website and updated regularly.

About HS2 phase 2

The government plans for HS2 to link with the north-west and Yorkshire and Humber.

The Secretary of State for Transport announced preferred routes for respective spurs to Manchester and Leeds off the Phase 1 route in January 2013. 

  • The Manchester Spur would start at a point close to Fradley Business Park and travel through Lichfield District, Stafford Borough, Newcastle Borough and then Cheshire before connecting at Manchester. 
  • The Leeds spur would start at a point close to Coleshill/M42/NEC/Birmingham International slightly touch upon Tamworth Borough before travelling through Derbyshire, Leicestershire and South Yorkshire before connecting at Leeds.

On the 17 July 2013 a period of consultation commenced on Phase 2 and ran until 31 January 2014. As with consultation on Phase 1, we worked with Staffordshire County Council and duly submitted a joint response to the consultation by the January 2014 deadline.

On 17 July 2017 the government deposited in parliament a hybrid bill setting out plans for Phase 2a of HS2 – the north-west link from Fradley in Lichfield District to Crewe. 

As part of the bill deposit a consultation exercise also commenced on the environmental statement (ES) supporting the proposed route design and mitigation. At the same time as submitting the bill to parliament the government formally announced its intentions to progress in due course a similar bill to cover Phase 2b linking Phase 1 to Leeds via Derby/Nottingham and Sheffield. Phase 2a is due to be operational by 2033.    

Lichfield District Council prepared a formal response with Staffordshire County Council, Stafford Borough Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme which was submitted by the deadline of 30 September 2017 and appointed Parliamentary Agents to act on our behalf. A report was presented to the council's Cabinet on 5 December where the council agreed to objecting to High Speed Rail (West Midlands – Crewe) Bill and agreed to petition for changes.

The comments received during the consultation period were presented alongside the Bill and it progressed to a second reading in the House. The bill was considered acceptable and confirmed in principle, it was then passed to the House of Commons Select committee to scrutinise the contents in detail and decide whether the Bill was appropriate as deposited or needed to be changed in any way by Parliament. As with Phase 1 this is when the council and other interested and affected parties have the opportunity to petition to the Select Committee and thus the House of Commons on issues which raise concern.

In December 2017 we decided to petition in relation to the impact upon landscape and amenity of settlements within the district, the impact during the construction phases upon residents and the potential sterilisation on the timing and delivery of future housing and employment at Rugeley Power Station.

The Government has proposed a number of changes to the proposed HS2 route between the West Midlands and Crewe.

Certain changes can be made within the existing scope of the Bill and an environmental statement on these changes was prepared and consulted upon. However where the changes go beyond what is contained within the Bill an Additional Provision to the Bill must be submitted. A supplementary Environmental Statement 2 (SE2) was prepared and deposited in Parliament.  The period for petitioning and comment on both the Environmental Statements and the Additional Provision ended in March 2019. The impact of the proposed amendments was reported to the Council’s Cabinet in March 2019. The key changes can be summarised as places where surplus earth from the works was to be deposited and how the material was relocated, the mitigation works proposed for noise attenuation to properties, the lowering of the viaduct at Kings Bromley changes to the routes for construction traffic and to the environmental mitigation. Where these related to the existing bill they can be pursued through responding to the consultation process in response to the Environmental statements.

One issue which was outstanding related to the closure of Common Lane at Kings Bromley. As it was part of the hybrid bill it required the Council again petition the select Committee.

The Select Committee published its report on 7 June 2019 and it has endorsed the alternative put forward by HS2 which addresses the matter the council intended to petition for as it provides an alternate solution to the closure of Common Lane while avoiding construction traffic passing in front of Kings Bromley School. It is still possible the change could not be endorsed when the Bill is debated in the House of Commons and subsequently the House of Lords and the formal period of petitioning starts.