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Cheshire East Council submits HS2 Phase 2b Hybrid Bill petition

Cheshire East Council has submitted its petition against the HS2 Phase 2b Hybrid Bill (the Bill) – renewing its calls for the government to ‘deliver the best possible outcome for the borough and its communities’.

The Bill had its Second Reading in the House of Commons on 20 June and seeks the powers to construct and operate Phase 2b of HS2 (Crewe to Manchester), which is expected to open between 2035 and 2040. 

Cheshire East Council submitted its written petition against the Bill last week (4 August), seeking changes to the proposals within it and to how Phase 2b is delivered and mitigated against.

The petition, which was developed following consultation with local ward members and town councils, calls for the delivery of an enhanced HS2 hub station for Crewe to support the right level of connectivity to facilitate 5/7 trains per hour stopping at Crewe. It also calls for enhanced mitigation against the negative impacts of the scheme on the environment, landscape, ecology and local transport network.

This includes offering the maximum levels of compensation to those impacted by the HS2 line between Crewe and Manchester, and measures to reduce the visual impact of the scheme and better manage the disruption on the highways network during the scheme’s construction.

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council and chair of its highways and transport committee, said: “The petitioning process is the council’s final opportunity for us to formally raise our concerns and influence the proposals before the Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

“I would like to make it clear that whilst we are minded to support the project in principle, our support remains conditional upon the government delivering the best possible outcomes for Cheshire East, namely the infrastructure to support 5/7 trains an hour stopping at Crewe and substantial mitigation for those communities that will be adversely affected by construction along the proposed route.

“The arrival of high-speed services will unlock economic growth and regeneration opportunities and can also help to address serious capacity issues on our local rail network – helping to improve passenger services and moving more freight from road to rail.

“But the scheme will also have impact on the environment, landscape and ecology of Cheshire East and there will be communities that will be directly affected, particularly those close to these routes and construction areas."

On 6 July 2022, an additional provision was introduced into Parliament, known as AP1. Additional provisions are proposed changes to the Bill that require additional or new powers from Parliament. Additional provisions are ‘mini-Bills’ themselves and the proposed changes can be petitioned against.

Cheshire East Council submitted a separate written petition against the AP1 proposals yesterday (9 August). For Cheshire East, this includes proposed changes to highways junctions, and plans to extend the tunnel that would go under the north of Crewe by 620m – taking it further away from residential properties.

While the council is supportive of this proposal in principle, it is seeking the highest levels of mitigation to reduce the impact on the local area and its communities.

The AP1 also includes the removal of the Golborne Link – a proposed connection that would branch off the main HS2 line near Knutsford towards Manchester, to rejoin the West Coast Main Line near Golborne, just south of Wigan.

The council is seeking more detailed information about the alternatives to this proposal, and assurances that any alternatives will be consulted on before further decisions are made. Now that the petitioning period has ended, select committee hearings – where the petitions will be heard – will be held at a later date. The council will then assess any changes that are made following these hearings, in consultation with local ward members and town and parish councils. 

The hybrid bill and supporting documents can be found on the government’s website at: 

www.gov.uk/hs2-phase2b-crewe-manchester

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