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A major Bill to legislate for the building of the controversial High Speed 2 rail link has been formally presented to Parliament.
The High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill was given its formal first reading by MPs in a very brief appearance where a Commons clerk read out the title of the Bill.
Bills are not debated at first reading. A key debate and vote on the principle of the legislation will be held in the coming months.
The HS2 Hybrid Bill that is to go before Parliament will give details on how the first phase of the high speed rail project should progress.
The High Speed Rail (London - West Midlands) Bill will provide government powers to allow the construction and operation of the railway.
It will outline powers to:
- build and maintain the first phase of HS2 and its associated works, including secure planning permission for the works;
- compulsorily acquire interests in the land required;
- affect or change rights of way, including the stopping-up or diversion of highways and waterways (permanently or temporarily);
- modify infrastructure belonging to statutory undertakers (e.g. utility companies);
- carry out protective works to buildings and third-party infrastructure.
The publication of the Bill for phase one of the HS2 plan marks a significant milestone in the high speed rail project. Once Royal Assent has been achieved, it is expected that construction of the line from London to Birmingham will begin in 2016/2017 allowing the line to open in 2026.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the HS2 scheme was the 'most ambitious' infrastructure plan since the building of the M25 motorway around London.
The future of Britain's high speed rail network enters a key phase of its development when a HS2 hybrid Bill goes before Parliament later today.
As part of the process, opponents of the £50 billion HS2 scheme will have the chance to petition Parliament and have their case heard by a committee of MPs.
The Government has also published an "environmental statement" for the London-Birmingham phase one of the scheme.