HS2 faces another court battle as DfT accused of ‘bully boy’ tactics

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The fight against HS2 returns to the courts today as three groups challenge the Government over its £32 billion plan.

Bucks County Council, the HS2 Action Alliance and the Heathrow Hub are leading three appeals against a judicial review decision earlier this year.

A10 WEEK 42'MCBH'rd'Wendover Anti HS2 Meeting  Martin Tett Leader of BCC

A10 WEEK 42'MCBH'rd'Wendover Anti HS2 Meeting Martin Tett Leader of BCC

The controversial project has been hit by a series of negative official reports recently, including from the National Audit Office and the Major Projects Authority, and opponents say this shows the scheme is the wrong track to take.

Councillor Martin Tett, Bucks County Council leader and chairman of the 51m alliance of authorities opposed to HS2, said: “When the case for HS2 is properly examined, it is shown to be lacking.

“The Department for Transport cannot keep in denial, hiding its head in the sand and saying that opponents are a small minority of Nimbys.

“This is a seriously flawed project with an overrunning budget that is likely to top £58 billion, including trains and operating costs.

A10 WEEK 42'MCBH'rd'Wendover Anti HS2 Meeting  Hilary Warf Director of HS2 Action Alliance

A10 WEEK 42'MCBH'rd'Wendover Anti HS2 Meeting Hilary Warf Director of HS2 Action Alliance

“At a time of national austerity it is very poor value for hard pressed taxpayers.

“Our appeal, if successful, will provide the opportunity for a serious rethink of transport priorities and investment in road and rail schemes across the whole country, bringing jobs and growth now when we need them.”

The HS2 Action Alliance managed to raise £100,000 in a month to take its case to the Court of Appeal.

It says the Government failed to properly look at the environmental impact of HS2.

The group accused the DfT of ‘bully boy’ tactics through its refusal to agree a cap on legal fees, which the alliance said was an attempt to block its legal challenge.

The issue of costs was taken to court and the Government lost, meaning the cap will apply.

The alliance based its case on the European Aarhus Convention, which requires access to justice on environmental matters is not limited because of cost.

Hilary Wharf, the alliance’s director, said: “The fact that the DfT was willing to resort to bully boy tactics and ignore their Aarhus treaty obligations to avoid facing a legitimate legal challenge shows both its disregard for people’s rights and a lack of faith in its own case.

“The Government’s failure to properly consider the environmental impact of HS2 and its alternatives has led them to the wrong decision.

“The Government is failing in its duty to protect the environment for future generations.

“HS2 doesn’t stand up on environmental grounds, has no business case and should simply be dropped.”

A number of roadshows run by HS2 Ltd giving people a chance to look at its draft environmental statement, which details the impact of the line, have been taking place.

The next in the area will be at Stoke Mandeville stadium on June 24 and Wendover Memorial Hall on June 29.