Request to launch judicial review against HS2 lodged

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A REQUEST to legally challenge government plans to build a high speed rail link through the Vale has officially been lodged.

Bucks County Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council have put forward the bid for the judicial review, at a cost of around £5,300 each for the initial stage.

This is along with the other 13 members of the 51m group made up of local authorities opposed to HS2.

Objections raised in 51m’s submission claim that the government’s consultation on HS2 was inadequate in scope and flawed because not all information – and in particular regarding the impact on the environment – was available.

They also raise concerns that the impact of HS2 on the capacity of tube trains operating at Euston has not been considered.

Judges will now take three months to decide if the judicial review should proceed. This first stage has cost 51m a total of £80,000, shared out between the councils, but it is not known what the bill for taxpayers will be if the judicial review goes ahead.

Martin Tett, chairman of the 51m and leader of Bucks County Council, said: “We are doing this with great reluctance but feel that the government has left us with no alternative.

“They effectively excluded over half those affected by the proposal from participating in the consultation and in practice ignored the views of over 50,000 people and businesses who did respond.

“We have clear legal advice that there is a substantial case to be made against the government for the cavalier way they took this decision. “

“We have obviously thought long and hard about whether to launch a judicial review, or not.

“Legal proceedings are always expensive. But in this case we believe that it is in the public interest for Buckinghamshire County Council and councils within 51m to mount this challenge. By working together we will share the costs and minimise the impact on individual council budgets.

However, the decision to go ahead with legal proceedings has been condemned by the Campaign for High Speed Rail.

Lucy James, campaign director, said: “Going down the route of a judicial review is a colossal waste of time and money. And if local councils along the route foot some of the bill, then in some instances this money could be coming directly from the taxpayer.

“The Department for Transport received and considered nearly 60,000 submissions during the course of their public consultation, and as a result they implemented changes to their original plans which are clearly visible in the alterations they made to the final route.

“One of these was to extend the tunnelling in the Chilterns so that half of that section is now underground.

“Instead of a long drawn-out process through the courts, people from both sides should be working together to minimise the impacts and ensure that we build the best high-speed railway possible.”