Council to decide over £70,000 for HS2 petitioning

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Councillors will decide if they want to fight for a better deal under HS2 by petitioning at costs of up to £70,000.

Warwick District Council’s executive is expected to agree to petition the Government over compensation and mitigation as part of plans for HS2.

But they cannot proceed without support from at least half of all elected members - meaning the vote will have to go to full council before the final decision is known.

Any person or organisation directly affected by the high speed line can petition in an effort to change aspects of the Hybrid Bill before it is taken forward by MPs.

At Wednesday’s meeting, councillors will not be concerned with opposing or supporting the idea of the line between London and Birmingham, but on changing specific aspects of the scheme.

Any petition would try and reduce the impacts on communities,businesses and the environment in the new trains’ path.

As the bill is finalised, petitions could also secure amendments and additional mitigation or compensation measures for those affected.

A report by WDC officers states that it would be “expedient for the council to oppose the High Speed Rail Bill” currently going through Parliament as under current plans, the line would affect a “sizable chunk” of the district’s land.

A council report states: “Irrespective of their view on the principle of the HS2 project, various individuals, groups and organisations affected by the proposed route within Warwick District are proposing to submit such petitions.

“Officers are working closely with Warwickshire County Council, parish and town councils and other groups and organisations in order to co-ordinate those actions as far as is possible.”

But as the legal costs of petitioning may run up to £70,000, councillors will think carefully before pressing ahead.

It is proposed that the HS2 budget will be used to fund the move.

Those opposing the high speed line, or how it will impact their communities, are calling on “everyone directly affected” to petition in hope of securing a better outcome when the tracks are laid.

Joe Rukin, campaign manager for Stop HS2, said it was vital at this stage to take all requests and concerns over the impact the train will have to MPs so changes can be made.

“It is so important that we petition the government over these issues, now,” he said.

“These need to be made known before it is too late. We have already made our views clear in the consultation, but now need to press for these problems which will seriously blight our communities to be changed for the better.”

A statement from HS2 Ltd states: “Petitions will need to be presented in person, on the parliamentary estate in Westminster.

“Valid petitions will be heard before the Select Committee. If the Select Committee agrees with the objections it has the power to change the Bill accordingly.”