Published on 4 December 2012
Archived on 4 January 2013
THE 15 councils opposing the high speed rail link, HS2, will be in court on 3 December where their judicial review of the Government's decision to press ahead with the £34billion project will be heard.
Councillor Martin Tett, Chairman of the 51m alliance and Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council said: "We are doing this with immense reluctance; however we feel that we have been left with no alternative. This immensely expensive project ignores the Davis Review of aviation policy, has an abysmal business case and represents extremely poor value for hard pressed taxpayers' money. Far better alternatives exist to build the infrastructure the country desperately needs more quickly and at far lower cost. We cannot let the DfT with its atrocious record on managing key investment decisions not answer for why these have been ignored."
Councillor Sarah Hayward, Leader of Camden Council, said: "The judicial review enables us to highlight the impact of this fundamentally flawed scheme, through the legal system. We remain strongly opposed to HS2 and have been disappointed by Government not listening to our concerns. This scheme will bring a damning blight to Camden that could last for decades, and the Council will fight for every home and business, brick by brick."
Two residents who are being severely impacted by the HS2 route added their concerns;
Mr Passmore is an 85-year old Camden resident who will be forced out of his home if HS2 goes ahead.
He is a man who risked his life in one of the most dangerous operations of the Second World War.
Mr Passmore served on HMS Cassandra, a ship under frequent attack as it plied an icy Arctic route delivering vital supplies to the Russians. Based at Scapa Flow in northern Scotland, he and his comrades dodged attack after attack. His luck held for three journeys – but then his ship was hit by a torpedo. Sixty-six crew members died.
Mr Passmore has lived on the Regent's Park estate in Camden since it was built in 1961. He has been in his fourth-floor flat ever since. He understands he will have to move if HS2 goes ahead. “We want a guarantee of new flats before our homes are destroyed and for our community to be able to stay together," he said.
“I have known people here all my life. But no one has shown any interest in what we might want, and it feels like no one cares for us. They (the government) may not do anything for 10 years. I'll be 95 by then. I'd like to know where I am going to be."
Jaqi Curruthers, is a resident of South Heath in Buckinghamshire:“We've lived here for 11 years and have three children in local schools. My partner has built a business in Essex over the last five years and we were hoping to move to be closer to his work. But as our house is 400 metres from the proposed line we are not entitled to any compensation and we are left with a big mortgage on a house that is effectively worthless.
“Philip Hammond (Secretary of State for Transport May 2010 – October 2011) said that no one should be out of pocket as a result of HS2. Well we are, and our life is on hold for the next 20 plus years. The Government is making it pretty clear that they simply don't care about us, or any of the other 100s of hard working families that have had their lives destroyed by HS2" she added.
A. Who is the 51m alliance?
51m is a group of 18 local authorities that has joined together in a national campaign to actively challenge the HS2 rail project. The group is known as “51m" because that represents how much HS2 will cost each and every Parliamentary Constituency…£51million. The group wants to emphasise the impact this proposed scheme will have on every taxpayer in the country for years to come. 15 of the 18 local authorities in 51m are party to the Judicial Review on HS2.
B. The 15 local authorities who are party to the Judicial Review are:
1. Buckinghamshire County Council
2. London Borough of Hillingdon
3. London Borough of Camden
4. Aylesbury Vale District Council
5. Cherwell District Council, Oxfordshire
6. Chiltern District Council
7. Lichfield District Council, Staffordshire
8. North Warwickshire Borough Council
9. South Bucks District Council
10. South Northamptonshire Council
11. Stratford-on-Avon District Council, Warwickshire
12. Three Rivers District Council, Hertfordshire
13. Warwick District Council
14. Warwickshire County Council
15. Wycombe District Council
They are challenging the decision to give HS2 the green light on the basis of :
1. An unfair consultation and inadequate environmental assessment. a) The Government has decided to proceed with a high speed line without even consulting with those on the Y (North of Birmingham) about the route. b) They failed properly to consult on 51M's alternative (the optimised alternative) which would meet capacity needs without environmental damage, and be far better value for money. c) And they made changes to the route they first consulted on without further consultation. d) There has been no Strategic Environmental Assessment – and no proper assessment of the affect on protected species and wildlife. e) There has been no proper assessment of the affect on communities which would be destroyed by the construction, particularly the community in Camden around Euston. f) The procedure that the Government has chosen for progressing HS2, a “Hybrid Bill", will not allow for proper environmental consultation and decision making.
2. The impact of building and operating the HS2 rail link on the Underground capacity at Euston has not been fully considered. The Government does not know how the underground system will cope and without knowing this it is irrational to go ahead.
C. What do the local authorities hope will be the result of the review?
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.
D. Who will be making the case for the local authorities at the High Court?
We have a legal team of two barristers (Nathalie LievenQC and Kassie Smith) instructed by Harrison Grant on behalf of the 15 local authorities in court. Witness statements have also been made by Cllr Martin Tett (Leader of Bucks County Council), Cllr Ray Puddifoot (Leader of LB Hillingdon), Cllr Sarah Hayward (Leader of LB Camden), Michael May (independent transport planning consultant) and Chris Stokes (independent strategic rail consultant). Details of these statements will be available after they have been heard in court.
E. How many people / groups have been involved in bringing this judicial review?
15 local authorities are party to this JR. By working together we will share the costs and minimise the impact on individual council budgets.
F. What day(s) is the local authorities legal action listed for? How long do we expect to be at the High Court for? How much time has been set aside for the case?
The Local Authorities' case is expected to be heard on 3 and 4 December.
G. How much has the 51m fighting fund which has paid for this judicial review?
51m and the local authority claimants in the JR are separate. Some claimant authorities have directed a portion of their share of the fighting fund to funding their legal costs of the judicial review, but that is the only sense in which the 51m fighting fund pays for the judicial review. The total costs of all 15 local authorities to date are £165,000 which works out at less than the equivalent of 9 pence per resident living in local authorities along the route who are party to the JR (£165,000/1,938,000 people). By working together we have managed to conduct this case very cost effectively. The total cost of the JR will of course not be known until after the end of the case.
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267575