High Speed Rail - HS2


In February 2017, Parliament granted Royal Assent to the High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Act, confirming construction of the first phase of the HS2 rail line. This will link London and Birmingham, with a second phase under consideration to extend on to Manchester and Leeds.

The Council continues to maintain strong opposition to the scheme, and has repeatedly called for a halt to all enabling works until the Notice to Proceed has been granted. We have also recently submitted evidence to the government review into HS2's future supporting the cancellation of the whole project.

Despite our efforts, the scheme is still currently due to go ahead. Therefore, at this stage of proceedings, we recognise the need to secure the best possible mitigation. Our officers are involved in the determination of Schedule 17 and Section 61 applications, which are outlined in detail below. Through petitioning, we also secured the creation of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Review Group to contribute to the design of key assets in the railway and propose additional mitigation projects.

Councils HS2 Information

Approximate Timeframe for HS2:

2028 - 2031: Staged opening of Phase One

2026 - 2028: Commissioning and testing

2020 - 2026: Construction of the railway

Late 2019: Notice to Proceed expected to be granted

2017 - 2020: Early works

Schedule 17 Consents:

The High Speed Rail Act grants deemed planning permission for HS2 Phase One of the route, but some of the detailed design and construction is subject to further approval. Schedule 17 to the Act puts in place a process for the approval of certain matters relating to the design and construction of the railway.

It requires that the nominated undertaker (HS2 Ltd) seeks approval for matters of construction and design from the appropriate planning authority. Schedule 17 submissions are not the same as planning applications - planning permission for the proposed work has already been granted by the High Speed Rail Act.

Section 61 Consents:

The Control of Pollution Act (CoPA) gives local authorities powers in relation to noisy works on construction sites. The HS2 Act does not remove these, although it has made subtle changes to the way in which CoPA related disagreements are resolved. If a dispute arises, then the final arbiter will be the Secretary of State rather than the courts.

Normally Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils would have 28 days to consider a consent application, but this is not long enough for complicated applications. Consequently, through the petitioning process, the Councils have secured an undertaking that HS2 will engage early to seek agreement on provision of noise mitigation (e.g double glazing, temporary rehousing, hours of work, site screening, equipment to be used) to demonstrate that the "best practicable means" (BPM) for reducing noise from construction activities will be used.

During negotiations with others, Chiltern and South Bucks District Councils proposed an innovative "statement of expectations", which was accepted by the promoters as a mutually beneficial way of managing construction noise impacts

AONB Review Group:

The Chilterns AONB Review Group was formalised through a legal assurance provided by HS2 following significant efforts throughout the petitioning process in Parliament. The Council put forward a significant case to the Select Committee, highlighting the special nature of the protected area known as the Chilterns AONB.

The Select Committee appreciated the protected area and recommended approval of a formal Review Group which would work collaboratively to achieve two main objectives:

  • To develop design principles (both general and detailed) that could reasonably be applied to HS2 works in the Chilterns AONB and its setting, which aim to achieve an exemplar landscape design for the project; and
  • To identify additional environmental integration and enhancement measures that may further integrate the scheme into the AONB.

Route maps for HS2

The HS2 London to West Midlands route map and detailed area maps are available on the GOV.UK - HS2 maps and plans website.