We need “full and proactive” role on HS2, says Leicestershire Coucil

Cabinet members are being asked next week to support the county council taking a lead role in ensuring its voice is heard around the potential impacts of the HS2 rail line project.

The council says HS2 could bring travel improvements and significant economic benefits of at least £40 million per year.

It is proposing a ‘full and proactive’ approach in representing Leicestershire’s communities and working closely with HS2 Ltd, East Midlands Councils and other stakeholders in having a say around the development of the Phase 2B proposals.

Blake Pain, county council cabinet member for environment and transport, said: HS2 is impossible for us to ignore as we’ll still have statutory responsibilities around road closures and we’ll also be approached by local residents with their concerns.

“It’s vital that we have an input at an early stage into the impact on Leicestershire and we can only achieve that by taking on a leadership role. We want to put the county in the strongest position possible to get the most out of HS2 through supply chain benefits as well as mitigating the impact on local residents.”

HS2 Ltd are expected to publish details on how they propose to minimise environmental impacts of the project, which links London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester, before the end of the year.

However, in the report, the council has spelled out some of the specific issues which they want to discuss with HS2 so as to limit disruption to residents and businesses. These include minimising visual and noise impacts of the project, including design quality,  at proposed viaducts for Measham and north of Kegworth.

The report also outlines that limiting the impact of HS2 construction work on residents and businesses should not just be viewed from a highways perspective, but, in a wider context, including from a public health and education point of view. There is likely to be a sizeable workforce associated with HS2 in the county for up to eight years.

The report also recognises that taking a ‘full and proactive’ approach is the most costly option on the table at a time when the county council continues to face financial pressures.

However, it is recognised that this approach is more likely to be the most effective way of minimising the impact and achieving benefits for Leicestershire communities affected by HS2.

Blake Pain added: “We have to ensure that communities are being listened to and taking a leadership role will help them deal with their expectations and their concerns.”

Annual costs are estimated at around £400,000 a year with Leicestershire able to recoup some of the expenditure on officer time from HS2 Ltd.

The cabinet will discuss the report when it meets at 2pm on Tuesday, 16 October.