Leaders of 51m, the alliance of councils opposing the plans for HS2 have issued Justine Greening with an ultimatum; “Stop HS2 or we will see you in court”. If Greening has any sense of principle or consistency, she should be receptive to such as plea as it echoes what she said when opposing the third runway at Heathrow Airport: “If the Government will not listen in Parliament, then ministers will find they have to listen in the courts.” In the end, with Greening in attendance in the High Court, the plan for the third runway was completely trashed in the courts on 26th March 2010.
The group of councils has written to Greening giving her a formal declaration of intent, giving notice that if she does not rescind her decision, they will pursue a Judicial Review. Whilst the 51m group intend to challenge the decision making process, including the consultation, action groups are working up a challenge based on environmental grounds. Stop HS2 has been collecting information from the public to assist with both reviews. Anyone with any information they feel is pertinent to a legal challenge should send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Stop HS2, 129 Warwick Road, Kenilworth, CV8 1HY. This is also the address to send cheques made out to ‘Stop HS2’ for anyone wishing to help fund the environmental challenge. People can also pay directly into our account at Lloyds-TSB, Sort Code 30-94-93, Account no, 34934760.
Martin Tett Chairman of the 51m and is Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council 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. Communities in the Midlands and the north of England risk being bypassed and left to decline by HS2. We should be investing in our existing rail and road infrastructure across the entire country to bring jobs and growth now when it is needed.”
Vice-Chairman of 51m and Leader of the London Borough of Hillingdon Councillor Ray Puddifoot, said:
“The consultation process was unfair and inadequate in many respects. Ordinary people whose lives and livelihoods will be severely affected between Birmingham and Manchester and Leeds were not even given an adequate chance to have their say. The whole project represents extremely poor value for money for the hard pressed UK taxpayer and it is right that we challenge the Government’s decision to progress with this misguided scheme.”
Stop HS2 Campaign Co-ordinator Joe Rukin said;
“We are pleased that 51m have committed to taking this stance. Whilst the Coalition Government claimed that they made the decision to abandon the third runway at Heathrow, the truth is that just before the election there had been a court ruling which would have meant to progress they would have had to have started the process all over again. This shows that this is not a lost case, we can win and we have to learn the lessons from their victory.”
“Bizarrely, we’ve seen proponents of HS2 say that the councils shouldn’t be wasting money on a Judicial Review in these times of austerity. We’re talking about £100,000 for a Judicial Review against £32,000,000,000 for HS2, or 320,000 times less money before you look at the obvious cost overruns which will happen if the railway goes ahead. The councils putting in money know very well that this is money well spent as if HS2 cuts through their communities there will be long-lasting implications which will cost those areas dear in terms of disruption, loss of economic activity and reduced council tax receipts. In those terms, the cost of a winning Judicial Review will be an absolute bargain.”
Click here to read “Victory Against All The Odds, The story of how the campaign to stop a third runway at Heathrow was won.”