The Government will publish its plans for the second phase of the HS2 high-speed rail project in the autumn, it was announced today.
The proposals could include options for stations in Manchester, Leeds, South Yorkshire, the East Midlands and at Heathrow airport.
A report on phase two from HS2 Ltd, including such options, will be received by the Government by the end of this month, Transport Secretary Justine Greening said today.
The report from HS2 Ltd, the Whitehall-set up company considering the case for the line, will also include "advice on the case and potential locations for additional stations", she added.
But to minimise the risk of blight, Ms Greening said she would publish the advice at the same time as giving the Government's preferences.
The Government is already committed to going ahead with the first phase of the £32 billion HS2 which would see ultra-fast trains running through Tory heartlands from London to Birmingham on a new line which could be completed by 2026.
The second phase envisages a Y-shaped line continuing north of Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds with connections further north and into Scotland and which would be completed around 2032/33.
In a Parliamentary written statement today, Ms Greening said she intended to publish the HS2 Ltd report in the autumn "together with a Government response setting out initial preferred route and station options".
She went on: "An important part of this process will be to consider the views of delivery partners in the cities where HS2 stations may be located, including any underpinning evidence which they have identified.
"Understanding local desires and plans for development will be crucial in helping me reach initial preferences for station locations. I am particularly keen to ensure that the network best supports the economic potential of the cities and regions it serves, through well-integrated station locations that build on local and regional plans."
Ms Greening said: "Minimising the risk of blight is a serious consideration, and it is for this reason that I expect to publish HS2 Ltd's advice once I have reached a view on routes and station options.
"Publishing a detailed range of possible options without an indication of the Government's preferences would generate unnecessary and harmful blight across areas that ultimately might never be affected by the lines. I will be working with national environmental stakeholders to discuss key sustainability issues and how best to consult on lines of route going forward to help meet the needs of different stakeholders and the public."
Ms Greening said that only once a full public consultation had been launched and completed would any decisions be reached.
When the preferred route options are published, the Government would consult on and introduce an exceptional hardship scheme to assist property owners impacted by the proposals, Ms Greening said.
She added that she had asked her officials to explore options for bringing forward formal public consultation on phase two to 2013, and she would set out her proposed timetable later this year.
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