Battle lines drawn as councils prepare for High Court legal action over HS2

Above, The Royal Courts of Justice. Below a scene from the HS2 consultation, how Euston's high speed train station could look and 51m leader Martin Tett

Above, The Royal Courts of Justice. Below a scene from the HS2 consultation, how Euston's high speed train station could look and 51m leader Martin Tett

A coalition of five Buckinghamshire councils is taking the Government to the High Court on Monday in a bid to halt or delay the building of HS2.

The county and four district authorities are part of the 51m group of 15 councils which claim officials failed to follow the ‘proper legal process’ when they approved plans for a high speed train line.

The councils have so far spent £165,000 bringing a judicial review, which equates to 9p for every resident who lives in the 15 council areas.

51m says the total cost of the legal action will not be known until after the two-day hearings. Aylesbury Vale District Council has pledged £150,000 of taxpayers’ money to fight the plans and Bucks County Council offered £500,000 over three years.

The campaign group will challenge the HS2 plans on the grounds that officials carried out an ‘unfair consultation and inadequate environmental assessment’ and decided to proceed with the Y-route (north of Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds) without consulting those who will be affected.

Also that the Government ‘failed to properly consult on 51m’s alternative’, made changes to the route without further consultation and has not carried out a ‘proper assessment of the affect on protected species and wildlife’.

Speaking on behalf of 51m, barristers Nathalie Lieven QC and Kassie Smith will also state that officials do not know how London Underground will cope because the impact on the tube at Euston has not been fully considered.

When asked what 51m hopes to achieve at the Royal Courts of Justice, a spokesman said: “The judicial review is about the alleged failure of the Government to follow the proper legal process in reaching its decision to go ahead with the project.

“We hope the Government will at least go back and correct the failures in the process, for example by re-consulting.

“However, we obviously hope that this will cause the Government to question the entire validity of the scheme and agree with us that there are better ways to spend £34 billion to boost growth and jobs now.”

Ahead of the hearings the leader of the county council and 51m Martin Tett has submitted a witness statement along with other campaign chiefs and independent transport experts.

Last week David Cameron announced that the costs of challenging Government decisions through a judicial review would be increased and opponents would get less time to launch legal action.

In response Martin Tett said: “The recent example of the legal challenge by Virgin Rail to the West Coast Main Line franchise process exposed fundamental flaws in the procedures adopted by the Department for Transport in awarding that and other franchises.

“Major changes have been made for the public good as a result. Additionally, of course, the Conservative party and in particular the previous secretary of state for transport, supported the judicial review of the former Labour Government’s decision on the third Heathrow runway.”

The HS2 judicial review begins on Monday, with arguments brought by 51m. It will be heard by The Hon Mr Justice Ouseley.

After 51m, cases will be brought by the HS2 Action Alliance (which is bringing two), Heathrow Hub and Fairford Leys-based Aylesbury Park Golf Club.

The five separate judicial review cases will be heard over seven days.




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