10 March 2011

A debate at full council will assess the opinions of members of Northamptonshire County Council on the HS2 fast rail link which is proposed to pass through the county.

The findings of the discussion will then inform a report, which will go to the county council’s cabinet in May, and deliver the authority’s official standpoint on the proposal.

At a meeting of the county council’s cabinet in May last year, the authority agreed its support to the principle of a high speed rail network in Britain.

However the cabinet said it was currently unhappy with the proposed route and stated that HS2 should only go ahead if a route be found through consultation that minimised potentially adverse effects.

Cllr Ben Smith, county council cabinet member for regeneration and growth, said: “It was resolved last year that the authority agreed with the principle of high speed rail in this country and that it is seen as a key constituent in facilitating economic growth and prosperity.

“What was clear at the time was just how HS2 might impact on communities and cabinet expressed its concerns about how people living close to the proposed route may be affected and what could be done to minimise any adverse effects to people and the environment.

“We also need to be clearer on what benefits HS2 could bring to Northamptonshire as a whole and what in the way of compensation might be available for the people who are adversely affected.

“Benefits would need to be achieved particularly with improvements on the west coast mainline and we need to consider the disadvantages including the impact of a long construction period.

“I believe that by having an open debate in full council we will get a clear indication of what people in the county feel about this proposal and whether it will bring any benefits to them.

“We can then use this to influence our response to the government’s consultation on HS2 and whether we are in support of this major proposal.”

HS2 will be discussed at a meeting of the county council on Thursday, March 17.