Weighing in at a hefty 1.5 tonnes, the 55,000 page HS2 hybrid bill has been despatched in a mountain of boxes at Leamington Library.
The bulky tome is the document submitted to Parliament which will provide the legislation for the High Speed 2 rail line to be built. The full bill is being housed in the library for members of the public to inspect during the Parliamentary process – other county libraries will be holding electronic copies.
The hybrid bill contains an estimated total of 22 million words and includes HS2’s full environmental statement which establishes the Government’s green credentials for a range of matters including ecology, landscape and cultural heritage and noise.
In September, Warwickshire County Council voted by a substantial majority to oppose the scheme in its current form. All three main political groups support the council’s approach to maintain dialogue with HS2 Limited to engage on the process and scrutinise the plans, and to secure the best possible outcome for Warwickshire communities affected by the scheme.
Cllr Bob Stevens, Warwickshire County Council’s Cabinet member for HS2, said: “The scale of this document is monumental – it is over ten miles of paperwork if you placed each piece of paper end to end.
“We have been given only 56 days to read and respond to this bill – so effectively the Government expects us to read 1,000 pages a day with a break on Christmas Day!
“Although we are faced with such an enormous task, the county council will be examining the many implications of the hybrid bill on Warwickshire, and determining what level of protection and assurance it gives us against the impact of HS2.
“HS2 is the country’s biggest infrastructure project in a generation and will have a significant impact on the lives, communities and countryside of Warwickshire for the next 20 years and beyond. If, as seems likely, the bill gets its second reading in the Commons in March, this short timeframe is the only real opportunity for the public to formally scrutinise the content.”
The hybrid bill is a mix of a Parliamentary public and private bill and is necessary for such a large infrastructure project. The most recent example of its use was for London’s Crossrail scheme in 2004, which took almost three years to receive Government approval.
The introduction of the hybrid bill by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin kicked off the Parliamentary process for HS2, and once it receives a ‘second reading’ in the House of Commons it will be committed to a select committee for further cross examination.
Electronic versions of the hybrid bill are available in Warwickshire libraries and at parish councils along the route, or links to the documents are at http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/hs2