WORK can begin on the construction of High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) following the Royal Assent in Parliament of the bill to allow the scheme to proceed.
The HS2 Hybrid Bill was today given Royal Assent and became an Act of Parliament enabling phase one of HS2 to be built linking London and Birmingham.
A total of 54 kilometres of the route will travel through the heart of Warwickshire, with the first trains set to run in 2026.
HS2 Ltd now intends to carry out early works throughout 2017 ahead of the main contractors starting on site from next year . The early works include site investigations, enabling works, demolition and land preparation, and new wildlife habitat creations.
Coun Peter Butlin, Warwickshire County Council’s deputy leader and HS2 spokesman, said: “The Royal Assent for the HS2 Bill concludes almost three-and-a-half years lobbying Parliament for improvements to the scheme. During this time we have fought on behalf of our affected communities to secure a better outcome for them.
“This work has included securing a new primary school for Water Orton in North Warwickshire, a cycle bridge at Offchurch and limits on peak construction traffic. There have been many more positives in terms of better mitigation and outcomes for Warwickshire residents.
“Now we have to contend with the reality of the protracted construction period, which will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the county, and ensuring that we keep Warwickshire moving so that people can get on with their daily lives despite the disruption.”
Warwickshire County Council and other councils in the county affected by HS2 are Qualifying Authorities, which means they will be able to consider some of the design and construction details of the project. This role provides further checks and balances on HS2 and their impact in Warwickshire
HS2’s main works contracts are due to be awarded and announced in the summer. A consortium made up of CH2M, Atkins and SENER has previously been appointed to oversee the preparation of the design and construction stages.
Warwickshire Labour group HS2 spokesman Coun Brian Moss added: “Now that the Government has the legislation for HS2 there is no doubt that we have to accept that the railway will be built. There are many detailed elements of the scheme that will be developed during the design stages and we anticipate these will be made public next year.”
Coun John Whitehouse, HS2 lead member for the Liberal Democrats, said: “The council will continue to support our residents, particularly those who are vulnerable and most affected, and work with HS2 Ltd to minimise the disruption to the county during the construction phase.”
The route for HS2 Phase 2b between Birmingham and Leeds which will go through North Warwickshire is currently out to consultation until March 9.