HS2: Government forced to reconsider plans for powers over Camden's roads as House of Lords debates HS2 Bill
The government was forced to reconsider plans this week that would have given it further wide-reaching powers over traffic and parking, following pressure from Camden Council, highway authorities including Transport for London, and Members of the House of Lords. The amendments to the HS2 Bill, tabled by the government at the last minute and with no consultation, were debated as the final stages of the Bill began in the House of Lords.
The amendments debated at the Grand Committee stage of the HS2 Bill included proposals by the government that would take away local authorities’ normal powers over traffic and parking, such as limiting use of heavy goods vehicles in residential areas, parking restrictions and controlling traffic for the purpose of parades.
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. 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.
We raised our concerns in a letter to the Department for Transport, made our case to Members of the House of Lords, and have been working with other highway authorities along the HS2 route.
We also met with the Department for Transport, other highway authorities and HS2 Ltd to discuss our concerns and seek changes to the proposed powers. The Department for Transport has now agreed to review the proposals and we are currently waiting to see the amended drafting.
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. 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.
HS2 Ltd’s response to Select Committee report
Next week we expect the government to publish its response to the House of Lords Select Committee’s report. The Select Committee supported our calls for fairer compensation for Camden residents and the joint design and funding for a world-class Euston station. The Committee also recommended the removal of unnecessary compulsory purchase powers from the HS2 Bill.
The HS2 Bill now enters the Report stage. On 24 January Members of the House of Lords will discuss any further amendments tabled to the HS2 Bill and may vote on some of these. The Third reading of the Bill takes place at least three working days later, where ‘tidying up’ amendments can be tabled.
The Bill then returns to the House of Commons, where Members of Parliament will consider the House of Lords’ amendments to the Bill. Both the House of Commons and House of Lords must agree on the wording of the HS2 Bill before it can gain Royal Assent, which will give HS2 Ltd permission to build the railway scheme. We expect Royal Assent in early February.
HS2 in Camden
The Council wants HS2 Ltd’s works to be carried out safely and for them to meet their commitments to the assurances we secured as part of the parliamentary process. We will continue to use our limited powers and hold HS2 Ltd to account to reduce the scheme’s impact on Camden.