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Last updated: November 11, 2012 6:06 pm
The transport secretary is to announce plans for a design panel to ensure that the High Speed 2 rail line between London and the north respects rural areas.
Patrick McLoughlin will make the announcement as he tries to appease campaigners before a judicial review.
The independent panel, made up of experts in architecture, engineering, town planning and transport, will work with local people, environmental and countryside groups.
Similar to the panels which worked on the design of the Olympic Park and Crossrail, it will review plans for stations, large viaducts and bridges, and recommend improvements.
“I’m particularly keen to ensure high quality design for structures along the HS2 route – and to give communities confidence that they will be as sensitive as possible to the character of their setting,” Mr McLoughlin will say in the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s annual lecture on Tuesday.
“Work will start on the detail of key structures after High Speed 2 gets the green light from parliament,” he will say.
The speech will underline the transport secretary’s commitment to the £37.2bn rail link between London and the north. Mr McLoughlin said he was eager to “crack on” with the line at a fringe event on the sidelines of Conservative party conference in September.
The preferred route for the line is due to be announced before the end of the year. A judicial review is planned for early December.
The train route has faced strong opposition, including from many Conservative MPs, as it is set to cut through the Chilterns, a Tory heartland. Campaigners have also argued that the economic case for the line is weak, based on faulty forecasts and assumptions such as the time and cost savings.
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