The Hybrid Bill was deposited with Parliament earlier this week and seeks the powers to construct and operate Phase 2b of HS2 (Crewe to Manchester), which will open between 2035 and 2041.
The proposals in the Bill include the Crewe North Connection – an important piece of infrastructure needed to be able to accommodate up to seven HS2 trains calling at Crewe per hour, with direct HS2 connectivity to Manchester, Birmingham and London.
It is a significant milestone in securing the council’s shared vision for an enhanced Crewe hub station, and it will also deliver a significant benefit for all rail users, by freeing up capacity on the heavily congested rail network.
While Cheshire East Council has welcomed the Bill in principle, it recognises that the scheme and its construction will have a significant impact in some areas of the borough.
The council will therefore be seeking the necessary approvals to petition against the Bill to seek improved mitigation against the environmental, ecological and social impacts of the scheme, including compensation for those impacted by the HS2 line between Crewe and Manchester.
Petitioning is the final opportunity for the council to formally raise its concerns and influence the proposals which impact the borough before the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.
Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council and chair of its highways and transport committee, said: “HS2 is a strategically important project for the council and the authority has long been a supporter of the scheme.
“Over recent years, rail passengers have experienced frequent delays and cancellations as a result of congestion on our predominantly Victorian railway infrastructure. The coming of HS2 offers a once in a lifetime opportunity to finally begin to address this, whilst also helping to remove freight from our national road network.
“We also recognise the wider economic and regeneration potential that it can unlock for Crewe and the wider borough, including jobs and increased business confidence to invest.
“However, we also recognise that it will have significant impacts on the environment and the ecology of Cheshire East and cause disruption to many residents.
“Our support remains conditional on the delivery of an enhanced hub station for Crewe and on securing the maximum level of mitigation from the scheme, including that the maximum levels of compensation are offered to Cheshire East residents and businesses negatively impacted by HS2.”
Cllr Browne added: “We welcome the publication of the environmental statement and supporting documents alongside the Bill and note confirmation of the changes to the Rolling Stock depot north of Crewe.
“We will now review these and work with local ward members to seek the appropriate mitigation against the negative impacts of the scheme.
“The council does have the option to petition government on proposals included in the Bill and this will require a full council resolution.
“The council’s petition against the HS2 Phase 2a Bill (Birmingham to Crewe route) did secure a number of assurances, including funding to provide additional environmental and ecological mitigations in and around the line of route.”
The 25-day petitioning period will begin after the second reading of the Phase 2b Bill in the House of Commons, which could take place as early as March 2022.
Any individual, group of individuals or organisation ‘directly and specially affected’ by the Bill has the right to petition against it and this could include matters relating to the route alignment, noise impacts and measures to preserve wildlife.
While a petition put forward by the council would be informed by the strategic concerns within the Bill, the authority also understands that there will be local issues across the line of route.
It is expected that these will be pursued by town and parish councils through their own right to petition and the council will engage with local councillors to support this process.
The hybrid bill and supporting documents can be found on the government’s website at: www.gov.uk/hs2-phase2b-crewe-manchester
For residents wishing to understand if they are eligible to petition against the Bill, please contact the HS2 helpdesk on 08081 434 434 or email: HS2enquiries@hs2.org.uk