Warning: ‘this is your last chance, stop HS2 or end up in court’

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A FINAL call has been issued to ministers warning that they can expect legal action if they remain on-board with the HS2 plans.

The formal warning-letter was sent by a group of 18 councils which have pledged over £1 million of taxpayers’ money to an anti-HS2 fighting fund.

Meanwhile HS2 Ltd has confirmed it will pay each landowner along the route £1,000 to survey their land. The Stop HS2 campaign group is urging those who receive the money to donate it to the fighting fund.

Mart Tett, leader of Bucks County Council and chairman of the 51m group of authorities opposing the plans, said: “We are taking this stance with regret.

“We would far rather that the government had listened to the people of this country who have decisively rejected this massively expensive project and instead opted for the far better, cheaper and more quickly delivered alternative put forward by 51m.”

Transport Secretary Justine Greening gave the go-ahead for the high-speed plans on January 10. Since then, HS2 Ltd has agreed to pay landowners £1,000 for officials to carry out environmental impact assessments in areas that will be affected. Alison Munro, chief executive of HS2 Ltd, said: “The ecology surveys will initially identify plants, animals and habitats, then, if necessary, HS2 Ltd will carry out further detailed investigation for specific species.

“This could include collating bird numbers and their movements, badger monitoring, reptile surveys and studies of dormice.

“As the project progresses the company’s engineers and environmental specialists will also investigate ground condition and physical features and take measurements.”

Harry Cotterell, of the county Land and Business Association, said: “We recognise that many of our members would rather HS2 was dropped, but now it is confirmed we owe them a duty of care to ensure the work is carried out with as little damage and loss as is possible.”

Penny Gaines, of Quainton, social media director of the Stop HS2 national campaign group, said: “Some landowners may wish to support our campaign and a judicial review by donating a proportion of that money.

“If they wanted to donate the whole lot they could ask HS2 Ltd to make the cheque payable to Stop HS2.”