Whilst we expected that HS2 would make far more challenges to the locus standi of petitioners in the House of Lords, we didn’t expect that 414, more than half of the 821 would be challenged. If you are one of those 414 petitioners, don’t worry, you are in good company as all the MPs and Action Groups who have petitioned have been challenged, as well as both HS2AA and Stop HS2. The decision to challenge so many has not been made by the Lords Committee, but by HS2 Ltd.
The first and most important thing we have to say is please fight this challenge. One of the main reasons for bringing these challenges that HS2 Ltd are hoping that some of the petitioners will give up at this stage and not appear in front of the committee, which will fulfil their only real aim, speeding up the process.
Currently, a number of petitions have been organised for the first couple of days, mostly for MPs and Actions Groups, and it is felt that these will in some ways be considered test cases.
David Walker who organised the timetabling in the Commons will be contacting people regarding locus standi hearings, but this might not happen soon, as it is possible not all locus hearings will have completed when petitioning proper is expected to start on 24th June. Locus hearings are not about your petition, they about you having the chance to prove that HS2 Ltd are wrong and you or your group is specially and directly affected by HS2. Everyone who has been challenged has the right to be heard.
One thing we would like you to do is contact HS2 Ltd asking for more information about your petition. The sample letter below is drafted by former Director of Public Prosecution, Sir Keir Starmer QC MP, and the email address to send your edited version to is firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Sir or Madam,
Re: High Speed Rail (London – West Midlands) Bill
Petition Number – [INSERT]
On xxxx, you sent me a letter enclosing a Notice of Objection indicating that the Secretary of State intends to object to my locus standi as a Petitioner to be heard on my Petition against the Bill.
I’m afraid the grounds set out for the objection are vague and general and I simply do not understand them. Moreover, two vague and general grounds are set out without indicating which, it is claimed, actually applies in my case.
I intend to challenge the Secretary of State’s objection but cannot prepare my challenge until I am provided with further details.
I note that the Guidance Note on locus standi procedure indicates that, before the hearing, I have to set out whether facts are disputed.
Therefore please provide forthwith, better particulars of:
(a) Which ground of objection is actually relied on by the Secretary of State.
(b) Why, in more specific terms, is it suggested that my interests are not directly or specially affected by the provisions of the Bill. Is this a geographical challenge, a subject-matter challenge or a challenge on some other basis – and, in any event, what details are relied on?
(c) Why in more specific terms, it is suggested that my interests are not affected in any manner different from that in which the said provisions may affect the interests of other inhabitants of the districts affected by the Bill. Again, is this a geographical challenge, a subject-matter challenge or a challenge on some other basis – and, in any event, what details are relied on?
Given the tight timetable before locus challenges are heard, I look forward to your swift reply.