Race to fund anti-HS2 case as bill has first reading

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The first HS2 bill has been introduced in Parliament as opponents face a race against time to fight the £32 billion line in court.

Two HS2 bills were announced in the Queen’s Speech and on Monday the controversial paving bill, which would allow more money to be spent on the project sooner, had its first reading in the Commons.

The HS2 Action Alliance is hoping to challenge the Government in the Court of Appeal about its ‘failure to comply with important legislation designed to protect the environment’.

However, it has so far only raised £65,000 of the £100,000 needed to fund the case and has until the end of May to come up with the rest.

The group is appealing to people to donate so it can continue to fight HS2.

In a statement it said: “The simple fact is, if we don’t get to the total, we won’t be going to court.

“Please help us get there and send the Government a clear message that communities across the country believe our environment is worth protecting.”

Laying out the Government’s plans for the next Parliamentary session last week, the Queen said the legislation would be brought in to help economic growth.

As well as the paving bill, the move will see the introduction of a hybrid bill, covering everything required to allow phase one – the route from London to Birmingham which cuts through the Vale – of the project to be built.

Opponents say the paving bill shows a ‘complete disregard to both due process and budgetary control’ and allows the Government to write a blank cheque for the project without proper scrutiny.

Penny Gaines, Stop HS2 chairwoman, said: “It’s clear that HS2 Ltd have been overambitious and reckless with taxpayer’s money.”

UKIP leader Nigel Farage described it as a ‘cynical move’.

He said: “The arrogance of ministers knows no bounds.”