Councils issue ultimatum, Stop HS2 now or we’ll see you in court.

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 challenge@stophs2.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.”

48 comments to “Councils issue ultimatum, Stop HS2 now or we’ll see you in court.”
  1. @ Peter Davidson. Actually, I think FPTP gives local residents more rather than less influence in a situation like HS2. There are several arguments against FPTP, but one of its advantages is that allows/forces MPs to act more independently from their party when local interests conflict with party policy. Clearly, the more marginal the relevant seats the more influence locals have.

  2. What I want is: my local authorities speaking and working with HS2 to ensure the best scenario for where I live and especially for those living near the line and those that will be impacted by it.

    I DO NOT SEE ANY EVIDENCE OF THIS HAPPENING. This is how my local authority can best serve its local community and best use local funds. There is no question that tis is their role

    Therefore can someone from HS2 ltd please answer this question:

    Is Bucks County Council or Martin Tett having good dialogue with HS2 as I describe above?

    Surely if not, this lack of engagement is also a case for legal challenge.

  3. I wouldn’t like to think that local tax payers will be paying for such legal costs and also the legal costs of HS2 if this fails. This isn’t what i pay my local tax for.
    Peter Davidson – Is it lawful that local council’s can spend our money like this? On what democratic basis is there a county level vote that allows them to go forward with such a silly idea? Any thoughts?
    The HS2 goes right through my county and there are very vocal opposition against it near to the line is a large proportion of local people either do not know about or care about HS2 as it isn’t near them. I’m fairly close to the line but I do not want my money spent like this.

    • It’s funny how some of the detractors like Simon and Peter are now making a fuss about democratically elected councillors doing something that a lot of people in their area support!

      If you don’t like your council spending money on a judicial review, vote them out at the next council elections. You can always stand as an “anti HS2 judicial review candidate” if you really want.

      To paraphrase Ian earlier “Yes, they do realise the strength of public opinion; that’s why they are proceeding with the judicial review.”

      • @Joanne: It’s funny how some of the detractors like Simon and Peter are now making a fuss about democratically elected councillors doing something that a lot of people in their area support!

        errrr………..I beg your pardon – “are now making a fuss”

        I’ve always made a fuss about the how the democratic political process works (or doesn’t) – you have a somewhat stilted view of how democracy works in the UK

        See my remarks posted at 19:31, before I even saw your post (that is, if the moderator of this site will allow it?)

      • Joanne, why do none of them resign and force by-elections, standing as independents on an anti-HS2 ticket? I’m guessing it’s because they think they’ll lose.

    • @Simon

      Is it legal – good question?

      Firstly we need to put this complex matter in context – there is often a (subconscious) negative slant placed upon the descriptive term “political” – an inference of underhand and sly motives at work – this interpretation is utterly wrong! Politics is a vital aspect of civilised society facilitating difficult choices concerning the allocation of finite resources in an accountable manner – by accountable I mean that we elect those who put themselves forward for our censure/endorsement and they make decisions through a specific institutional framework – if we don’t like how those decisions pan out, we can subsequently exercise censure/endorsement in the same manner, thus holding those making policy decisions to account – the principle of accountability lies at the heart of the democratic political process.

      The decision taken by the present Coalition administration, to press ahead with HS2, IS political and there is nothing wrong with that.

      High Speed Rail policy was a commitment contained within the manifestos of both Conservative and Lib Dem Parties (Labour too for good measure) – voters knew this in advance and had the chance to exercise their choice of candidates through the ballot box. As a side issue, there is a related debate to be had about how accurately votes cast reflect the complexion of candidates elected (as I have tried to explain within the columns of this forum).

      So I must reject the bogus claims made by many hostile to HS2 that somehow the decision to go ahead is undemocratic – this shows a woeful misunderstanding of the democratic political process – the Consultation Exercise was NOT a device to deliver (public) democratic endorsement of the policy – the last General Election was that mechanism!.

      The same “political” term can be applied to the policies being pursued by the 51M Group of local councils so in that respect they cannot be condemned. However, the same principle of accountability also applies – the question that needs asking here is;

      The big question here is; did the candidates/party machinery of elected candidates currently leading the 51M Group of local councils include a clear commitment within respective manifestos, prior to the last set of elections, to pursue such policies. I don’t know the answer to that central challenge because I don’t live within any of their constituencies – perhaps you can investigate and enlighten us?

      If it can be shown that there was no manifesto commitment, I’d argue that there are grounds to legally challenge their actions, in other words you could launch a Judicial Review of their (your local council) decision to launch a Judicial Review – but be warned you need to do it quickly (within 3 months) and it costs a lot of money!

  4. Apparently HS2 engineers and consultants have been seen out an about locally undertaking surveying on land already. I think Peter Davidson is right that this will not stop or slow down the process.

  5. As much as it pains me to say, a Judicial Review will do little to halt this dictorship-like move by a hopeless woman brought into the job on the condition that she approves HS2. By now I’ve realized that our Government is at the point of curruption and this Review won’t serve any purpose.

  6. As a voter and British citizen I expect a democratically elected government to conduct itself lawfully. The Government expects its citizens to act within the laws it has passed, British citizens deserve their Government to do likewise.

    If the judicial review of HS2 reveals unlawful practice, then it would be on the shoulders of our governing Ministers to continue with the high-speed rail project in a more lawful way. If they do it lawfully it would expose the anomalies associated with the HS2 plan, opening a way towards a better solution to our transport inefficiencies, improve business prospects nationally rather than constricting it to a few cities, reduce rather than escalate national debt and prevent rather than cause any further environmental harm.

    The plans for Heathrow’s third runway were overruled by the High Court, mainly because to go ahead would have contravened the UK Emissions Policy, by increasing CO² emissions into the atmosphere. At the time, it was thought that high-speed rail would be the answer to this problem as it appeared to be the carbon neutral alternative to short-haul air passage. From what I have read on this subject, it now looks as if high-speed rail would be the catalyst to a comparable increase in carbon emissions to those that Heathrow’s third runway would have led to.

    Connecting Heathrow, Birmingham Airport and other UK overseas transport hubs, via high-speed rail, is designed to attract increasing numbers of people into and out of the country (to boost our economy). This will inevitably load our roads, existing railways and long and short haul flight routes with more vehicles of onward transportation. These vehicles, and the resulting business activities of the people in them, will produce increased carbon emissions.

    The UK Emissions Target would be better achieved by deterring travel and discouraging acceleration in population growth. Striking the balance between a healthy economy and a healthy atmosphere is a delicate operation that should be achieved in a lawful, considerate manner. Not by disregarding conventional knowledge and taking a huge gamble.

    We can live without Heathrow’s 3rd runway. We can also live without HS2. What we need is to do is work on making the very best use of the transport networks that we have, because there is a limit to how many people these islands can ecologically support. Yes, that’s WE – all of us.

    And on the subject of who to vote for because the three main parties all said they wanted a fast train, we know that politicians can change their minds. There is a whole lot more to a party’s manifesto than our transport network and I will be reading them all very carefully when the time comes.

  7. HS2 is such a great investment……………..how many public companies are investing in it?. Its a total disaster & will cost us all dearly & may well be the death knell for this Govmt…………..do they realise how strongly people feel or are they really that disinterested in public opinion?…………..no votes for any party that agree with it please!.

    • I have an MP that is against the proposed route but seems to be in a difficault position being a Whip.I will not vote for him if he does not vote against it.On saying that, there are few that don’t promise things that they have no chace of delivering just to get elected.I have certainly had my eyes opened since getting invoved in this fight.Few now have my respect after the name calling and Justine Greening doing a complete about face when it suited her.

      • @dee / @Elaine

        The UK’s harsh political reality now becomes clear to you? That’s how politics works (or doesn’t depending on your perspective) in dear old blighty!

        First Past The Post (FPTP) lies at the heart of much of the democratic malaise you now find exposed – political discourse in 21st century society is nuanced, complex and dynamic but the UK retains (essentially because those who have the power to effect real change [in the voting system] boast a strong self interest in maintaining the status-quo) a blunt sledge-hammer type mechanism to reflect the desires, aspirations and wishes of its electorate. The three mainstream National parties all strongly support HS2 and between them they secured 88% of the votes cast in the last General Election.

        You do have a choice (the Green Party and UKIP both opposed HS2) but with FPTP in place (you had a chance to get rid of it last May?) it’s nigh on impossible to envisage any other result than all incumbent candidates, in the relevant constituencies, being returned in 2015. In fact the biggest single influence on the 2015 results won’t be HS2 but the redrawing of boundaries to reduce the overall number of MPs from 650 to 600!!!

    • Yes, they do realise the strength of public opinion; that’s why they are proceeding with the project.

      You have to remember that, when on this site you are in a bubble of like-minded opinion (for the most part!). Outside here, nobody is interested and a majority of people, when given a choice between gritting snowy pavements or spending £100k of Council Tax payers money on a pointless judicial review of HS2, would opt for their pavements being gritted.

      • Central government contributions to local authority budgets are being cut by 27% over 4 years. Bucks county council got £11m less this year than last year. Northants got £22m less. Meanwhile central government is spending an eye watering amount of money on HS2 – £51m for each parliamentary constituency. Councils could do a lot more for their communities if they had this money and have decided to put up a fight. It’s not the councils who are the bad guys here. Blame central government and HS2 if your pavements aren’t being gritted or your potholes not being repaired.

  8. Joe Rukin states:

    ‘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.’

    Which obvious cost overuns? And yes, this is £100,000 NOW out of local authorities’ very constrained funding – you know, the sort of funds that are spent on care of the elderly, vulnerable and needy. It is a stupid and profligate waste by people who are very good at spending on the Council Tax bank account. I say to Tett and co, ‘stump up the money yourselves and I might believe that you believe you have a case.’

    • Birmingham City Council, and Centro (funded by local and central government money) are members of Go HS2.

      Presumably you object as strongly to them using tax payers money to promote HS2, rather spending it on the ‘elderly, vulnerable and needy’ in the west Midlands area?

      • If it wasn’t for the approach of Stop HS2 and its supporters, Go HS2 wouldn’t be needed. And Go HS2 is not supporting a judicial review that is doomed to failure.

  9. Doubtless this article is intended to give the impression to readers that campaigners against the 3rd runway at Heathrow successfully challenged govt policy through the courts and this led directly to the cancellation of said Heathrow expansion

    Of course reality is slightly different

    Firstly, without reading through all 52 pages of the HACAN campaign story, I can’t be 100% certain but I’m 99.9% confident that I won’t find one thing of particular relevance to this debate; namely the involvement of highly organised activists from the Chilterns areas, joining their fellow citizens in and around the Heathrow area in a spontaneous act of solidarity – after all, we are ALL affected by insidious schemes such as HS2 or the Heathrow 3rd runway? If someone can point me to the involvement of Chiltern based campaigners back in 2008, I’d be delighted to congratulate them for displaying sympathy with their fellow citizens.

    The inference here is that a judicial review will deliver a similarly withering excoriation of government policy with regard to HS2, leading to immediate cancellation of the project and an embarrassing and hurried backtrack by Ministers. No such luck actually because even if the Court does express reservations about government strategy this does not necessarily mean any change of tack on the part of the government, indeed after the apparent “court victory for protesters” referred to in this article, the response from government was reported as effectively “no change” see this sentence extracted from a BBC website article, dated 26th March 2010:

    The decision does not rule out a third runway but calls for government policy to be reviewed. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the runway was still needed. The Department for Transport vowed to “robustly defend” the plan. 26th March 2010

    Of more practical influence here was an imminent General Election, which took place approx 6 weeks later – the court case referred to in the article resulted in a temporary delay and the incoming Conservative led Coaliton administration subsequently cancelled the 3rd runway. Had Labour won the General Election, doubtless the 3rd Runway policy would have been reinstated.

    Why is this relevant to HS2? Quite simple really – HS2 enjoys political consensus across the three mainstream National parties so it doesn’t really matter who wins (unless UKIP and the Green Party form the next government) the next election, HS2 carries on regardless!

    Finally, it is indeed ironic to discover the account of a successful campaign (which I would support by the way) against the 3rd Heathrow Runway relied on evidence advocating the construction of a High Speed Railine! To quote

    “Gratifyingly, they used some of our statistics in justifying their view that a high-speed rail line would attract a fair number of people out of planes.

    I look forward to 3rd Runway protesters giving evidence at the HS2 Judicial Review process, in support of a High Speed Rail line to drive modal shift from Short-Haul Air to High Speed Rail?

    The account provided by HACAN also confirms how Conservative Party policy on High Speed Rail acted as a catalyst for change with the Labour Party – many readers here seem confused about the origins of HS2 – the Lib Dems always advocated High Speed Rail but it was the Conservative’s advocacy that spurred Labour to change tack and develop the original HS2 route plan – see this sentence extracted from the HACAN narrative:

    The Conservatives’ announcement also prompted the Government, which had previously rejected high-speed rail, to announce a study into it!

    So good luck with the Judicial Review but don’t expect it to deliver a fatal blow to HS2, even if the judges are sympathetic to some aspects of your campaign goals?

    • You are right to say that a judicial review will not stop HS2 dead in its tracks, but it will introduce delays at the outset.

      Given the lengthy building timetable and the weak economic case it is feasible that the political will to carry on will wilt. John Redwood is one of the many voices arguing that HS2 does not offer sufficient value for money at the moment. He predicts that the next government in 2015 might drop it. HS2 is far from being a done deal and the debate is just beginning.

      • @Finmere

        We’ll be able to judge the scale of political will supporting this project well before 2015 because the Hybrid Bill process will probably have to begin sometime during 2013 – the plan being for the Bill to receive Royal Assent during the early months of 2015, ie. before the next General Election.

        I don’t believe the Judicial Review will have much impact on the timescales involved – I do expect there to be some commentary flowing from the process, indicating where policy can be improved – in fact I hope the Judicial Review focuses specifically on transparency of the procurement/tendering process for HS2 because this is where I believe public scrutiny should be centred, not on the actual principle of High Speed Rail, which is sound.

        If the Hybrid Bill passes and there is nothing at this stage to suggest it won’t – how many MPs do you think will vote against it – the incoming govt (of whichever complexion, given the broad consensus supporting it) will naturallly proceed, following the agreed timetable.

        Your last sentence is best described as “wishful thinking”

    • Wishful thinking? I don’t think so. It is perfectly possible that the passage of the hybrid bill could be delayed to the extent that it is not completed during this parliament. Judicial reviews and environmental impact studies will keep HS2 as a hot media topic. The bulk of media reaction – that HS2 is insanely expensive and built on all kinds of false premises, will gain momentum. Thousands of people and their MPs affected by the Y section to Manchester and Leeds will voice their objections. Already Maria Eagle and Louise Elliman are shouting “foul” as their realise that HS2 will diminish the value of their constituencies rather than add to it. More and more MPs will realise that their constituents too will lose out rather than gain, and that 51M were right all along. Against a background of mounting government debts and continuing economic stagnation, HS2, with a weak economic case and poor value for money will become politically untenable. It’s not done till it’s done and there’s still a long way to go.

      • As I said @Finmere – “wishful thinking”

        A Judicial Review has to be registered within 3 months – 51M has served notice of its intentions but I’m not quite sure where that leaves us – presumably some form of timetable has to be worked out but I can’t see the process lasting beyond 2012 – even if the Review comes up with suggested modifications, this doesn’t mean the government of the day has to comply – they merely have to be seen to comply, ie. make some gesture towards the recommendations and incorporate it into the proposed legislation.

        You hope that your campaign will gather momentum in the manner described but that’s not the same thing as it actually happening. In the meantime the government is pressing ahead regardless, the initial elements of the environmental impact assessment are already underway, and will continue to do so concurrently with any legal process undertaken by 51M and its supporters – in other words, no undue delay – Judicial Review or not.

        There is a clear timetable and the plan is for the Hybrid Bill to receive Royal Assent sometime during Jan-February 2015, just prior to the next election. For that timetable to unfold, the Hybrid Bill has to start its progress sometime during 2013. Your campaign will presumably maintain its guerilla warfare from the peripheries and doubtless the campaign’s friends in the media will continue with periodic stories to keep public interest going.

        In the meantime the wheels (of government) will grind round – you may hope that some MPs will come over to your side but all the indications are that you are on a hiding to nothing – HS2 is official policy for the LibDems, Labour and Conservatives – that’s a very powerful obstacle you have to overcome. In fact for the Conservatives HS2 is their flagship policy aimed at wooing Northern voters; a strategy in which they must succeed if they harbour any hope whatsoever of winning a single party majority. Yes, there will be reservations and concerns expressed, yes there will be anger if Ministers attempt to quietly ditch certain elements of the original plans to save money but the core strategy will continue, much like a super tanker continues to glide on effortlessly even though you believe you are bombarding it with everything you’ve got!

        Yes, there’s still water to go under the bridge but come early 2015 I expect the Hybrid Bill to receive Royal Assent – perhaps at that point, futile and counter productive hostilities will cease and a new chapter of constructive engagment might begin – trouble is by then it will probably be much too late for communities adversely impacted by HS2 to influence, ie improve, the mitigation measures already incorporated into HS2 construction plans.

          • @John

            I’ll try to spell this out for you in very simple terms

            Making noises in the media along the lines of I am against HS2 and actually defying the whip and voting against a motion in the chamber are two entirely differnent things.

            The former is designed to present a public face to target audiences, ie. voters in respective constituencies (who are actually bothered to take notice that is), the latter is likely to have a permanently damaging impact on one’s Parliamentary career so if you want to “go places” you simply entertain the idea!

            Now take into account the fact that HS2 has all party support (this is not a politically divisive topic across party lines), ie. there is cross party consensus. So a simple head count of the YAYs indicates something like 600+ and those in the NAY camp will be on the fingers of two hands – yes a number will abstain, which means they can defend their positions to opposing interests

            So, do you really think there is going to be an issue here, in terms of the Hybrid Bill’s progress through the legislative process – be honest!

            • @John

              I’m not coming down to any level – just explaining how these things work in practice

              Obviously I made a small grammatical error in my narrative – my phrase should read “you simply [don’t] entertain the idea!”

              You didn’t comment on the likely outcome of any division in the lobbies during the passage of the Hybrid Bill – seems like a no brainer to me that it’s going through?

            • @EL

              Absolutely not.

              I believe the best course of action for all impacted communities is to engage constructively and press the case for the best possible mitigation measures. That doesn’t mean just stick the whole damn thing in a tunnel by the way because that’s not practical either a) Topography wise or b) Cost wise

              Go and ask communities and individuals impacted by HS1 for advice and guidance – I recall listening to an excellent programme on Radio4 investigating exactly these circumstances. The feedback from those who reside in proximity to the HS1, before, during and after its completion, was actually quite positive and demonstrated how many of the worst concerns and fears proved gross exaggerations. Yes, there are genuine cases where people will have to be uprooted from their homes (of many years) but in the rural areas of the Chilterns particularly, these “genuine” cases are relatively few and far between.

              I believe that the current strategy being pursued by some elements of the anti-HS2 campaign is counter-productive – essentially the Judicial Review tactic is an all or nothing ploy. In this game of high-stakes poker the govt will call 51M Group’s bluff. When the Judicial Review process fails (and wastes relatively large amounts of council taxpayers money in the process) where does the campaign go from there?

        • What elements are most likely to be ditched? The Heathrow spur and link to HS1 will most likely be dropped. If I was in favour of this scheme I’d be very concerned whether phase 2 happens at all. Maria Eagle and Louise Elliman have been pushing for the whole thing to be approved in one go, but this has been resisted. A number of people suspect that HS2 will end up as nothing more than a fast shuttle service between the capital and “London Birmingham” airport.

          • Peter – why do you think it is impossible to launch a judicial review at the same time as engaging on mitigation? For better or worse, previous experience would suggest that this is a perfectly sensible strategy. Absent the threat of legal action or electoral damage I doubt the government will take much notice of local residents. The lessen I have taken from HS1 is make as much fuss as possible before its built because once it is no-one will really care about local residents anymore. The M40 was much the same as I think I have mentioned before.

            • @david riddell

              Thank you for your considered reply

              Think about it – pressing the case for best possible mitigation involves ongoing dialogue between two parties. The best analogy I can think of is a couple going through a divorce and settling up their affairs – how would it be possible to engage in relatively amicable dialogue when concurrently, one of the parties is trying to sue the other for every last cent they have – the end result is dialogue through increasingly bitter solicitor’s letters rather than constructive face to face meetings – we are all human after all?

              HS2 Ltd and DfT will react to 51M Group’s legal challenge by concluding – OK, we’ll see you in court and after we’ve won (and wasted money for both sides – of course in reality this means your money and my money as taxpayers) don’t expect any favours from us – that is an entirely predictable and human reaction?

              I AM advocating making a fuss – but there are ways and means of making a fuss both constructively and in an entirely negative (and ultimately counter-productive) fashion. Pressing the case for better mitigation whilst ackowledging that the line has to go somwhere is the former, sticking your head in the sand and saying we don’t need a new line (even though the govt. has a democratic mandate to pursue its policy) and we’re going to try and get rid of it through the courts is the latter!

            • Well therein lies the problem, Peter: you think the government has a democratic mandate for the existing HS2 proposal, and we don’t.

              The Coalition’s Program for Government said they would pursue a high speed rail program as part of their efforts to reduce carbon emissions. HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport both agree that operating HS2 is likely to be carbon neutral. For more on this see http://stophs2.org/news/4376-hs2-the-high-carbon-option.

            • Indeed @Penny

              The real problem here, which you are steadfastly refusing to acknowledge, is the fact that, under the current UK model of governance (or uncodified constitutional framework to use a more accurate technical description) democratic mandates derive primarily from the ballot box, NOT a consultation process – until and unless your campaign accepts that reality, “never the twain shall meet!”.

              Your interpretation of meeting carbon emission targets is a convenient theoretical vehicle to justify what is, in reality (which you can’t admit to) a self-interest driven goal; namely removing the threat posed to your immediate environment (where do you live again – Quainton isn’t it – just a stone’s throw from the approved Route3 option?).

              I don’t mind revealing to readers where I live; Alderley Edge

            • Peter, you frequently bring up the UK model of governance. The current system may not be perfect, but it is not practical for us (as a country or for Stop HS2 as a grassroots campaign) to sit round navel gazing while we wait for the perfect democratic system.

              The Coalition Government said, in their Programme for Government that they want to build a high speed railway to reduce carbon emissions. The proposed HS2 will not do that.

              As for Alderley Edge, that’s about five miles from Manchester airport, which itself has been widely suggested as the outer Manchester station location. Maybe you should consider whether your criticism of Stop HS2 is based around your own self interest.

            • It is entirely possible that a judicial review will conclude that the government has acted unlawfully. This will put the whole question of HS2 back under the spotlight. It will be the weak economic case and the carbon emissions that will do for it in the end. In the meantime communities are getting organised to get the best deal they can in terms of mitigation. I agree with David – a dual strategy that can be summed up as “fight for the best and prepare for the worst”.

            • @Penny

              I’ll answer the first and third points you’ve raised here and now.

              The reason why I refer to the UK model of governance has nothing to do with abstract navel gazing – it is directly relevant to the STOPHS2 (and other Anti-HS2 groups) campaign. The decision to proceed with HS2 IS political, no ifs, buts or maybes about it – some may see that as negative but I don’t, for reasons I’ve explained very clealy in these columns. This circumstance also means that any credible method of reversing the government’s decision must be similarly rooted in the democratic political process and that’s why I believe your campaign is going nowhere fast, up a blind alley.

              For example, let’s take one very obvious development in your campaign that hasn’t yet unfolded but surely will during the summer of 2015, after the Hybrid Bill has received Royal Assent (Judicial Reviews will be a distant, if bitter, memory). Doubtless there will be much wailing and nashing of teeth in the STOPHS2 camp and you’ll be gearing up with anti-HS2 candidates aiming to cause as much trouble as possible for those pesky MPs who’ve had the temerity to vote the Hybrid Bill on to the statute book. There will be copious dialogue about how you are going to make those same MPs pay for their treachery through the ballot box – after all, public opinion is surely on your side?

              One of the key features of the UK’s current Constitutional Compact is the Single Member Plurality (FPTP) voting system I keep banging on about and on the basis of that factor alone your campaign will be wasting its time and money (not for the first time I might add) if they consider such a tactic. It is the same flawed democratic framework (symbolised by the busted flush of FPTP) that will ensure the political decision to proceed with HS2 is endorsed – that’s why it is directly relevant to your campaign and it’s also the reason why I drew attention to the voting patterns exibited by the Chiltern residents during the failed AV Referendum last May – ironically, for your campaign, it will be those very same small c conservative habits that reinforce the government’s decision to proceed with HS2. I find it very funny – doubtless you’ll fail to appreciate the humour in this outcome!

              Yes, for those living in Alderley Edge (if my guesswork is accurate), we will indeed find ourselves in a strange position because whilst we’ll have the trains passing right through our neighborhood, on the WCML post phase 1 and on a new route post phase 2, we’ll almost certainly have a station close by (Wilmslow during phase 1 operation and Manchester Airport post phase 2) so it will be interesting to see how public opinion shapes up when phase 2 goes public and the prospect of HS2 becomes more real. I’ve made it abundantly clear why I support HS2 – accuse me of self interest if you like – water off a ducks back to me!

              I’ll come back to you concerning claims about HS2 and carbon emissions

            • Peter, from the point of view of a grassroots campaign which is trying to get a current government policy altered, changes to the UK constitution do count as abstract navel gazing, which is why it off-topic on the Stop HS2 website. If people want to campaign about HS2 and about constitutional reform, that is their perogative, whether they live in the Chilterns, near a probable HS2 station, or somewhere completely different.

              So, with the reality of the existing political process, we ask people to do things like write to their MP, and their local paper, to sign our petition on the Government’s website – http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/353 – etc.

            • @Penny

              You will of course, recall this dialogue circa Summer of 2015 – when I utter the phrase “told you so”

              Agreed that constitutional reform is not directly on-topic – I merely draw it to your campaign’s attention because the lack of reform will ultimately come back to frustrate your goals

    • So Peter in your reply about Heathrow 3rd runway , Statistics how that an H.S. line would attract a fair number of people out of planes.
      It is not going to be the case if folk are moving from London to Bham to go on Their hoped expansion on long haul flights.Oh you say no ,it will free up Heathrow when Bham expands with those in the Midlands not travelling to London.therefore that means even less people needing to use HS2.This train will run for a few wealthy people,If it ever gets built.The money spent already on it by the government it disgusting.You say stop Hs2 gave out misinformation, Many were and still are unaware what was planned.Even those that could loose their homes would not have known had it not been for stop hs2.The consultations did not inform properly and details given out by those for hs2 have been proved to be wrong.How many jobs could have been created and made a real difference by the money already spent?They are just starting to look into
      the environmental situation ,something that should have been done before they decided to say they intended to proceed.The whole thing has been badly handled.

      • @ Peter Davidson. Beyond a certain point I agree with you. For example, refusing to engage in the planned community meetings would in my view be a bad idea. However, I think litigation falls the right side of the line and keeps the issue in the public domain and creates the risk for the DfT/HS2 (however small, and I freely admit I have no idea what the legal merits of the case are) that they lose and there is delay etc.

        • @ peter davidson

          Following on and looking at the divorce analogy. In a divorce, neither party can force its will on the other. Only an independent court can do that. This is very different to HS2 – parliament can (in my view, rightly) override the views of local residents provided it acts within the law. In effect, judicial review is one of the few routes open to those opposed to HS2 to introduce at least an element of independence into the process and keep the government honest. This is the essence of our democratic system – parliament can do what it likes provided it acts within the rules it itself has agreed or changes them in the normal way.

          In addition, from what I have seen most of the threatened litigation revolves around failure to comply with various environmental study and/or cosultation obligations. Presumably, the argument is that if these obligations had been complied with there would be a different less damaging route or the same route with better mitigation. This seems entirely consistent with constructively arguing for better mitigation.

          Finally, the cost of litigation will be tiny in the context of the overall costs of the scheme and as you yourself say the HS2 process will continue unless and until the government loses in court.

          • @David

            You’ve missed the point of my analogy here – if a divorce is settled amicably the courts aren’t directly involved – both parties get something out of the arrangment (not all that they wanted but a compromise). The courts only act if one party reneges on the amicable settlement. In effect the 51M Group will be attempting two negotiating tactics simultaneously; a) we’d like to discuss best mitigation with you whilst b) we’re going through the courts to get the whole thing annulled. To pretend that one tactic will have no influence on the other is just not realistic, is it?

            Take the example of the community meetings you refer to – if people turn up and engage constructively they may find a certain kind of response. If they turn up and start demanding that the entire project is cancelled and/or moved completely away from their neigborhood and dumped in someone else’s backyard, the reaction will be very different – in fact the meeting would very quickly descend into anarchy and terminate abruptly!

            • @ Peter Davidson. No I got the point and yes you are right there is that risk. I just think that at the present moment this risk is outweighed by the positives – it keeps the issue in the press and it creates some chance of delay or cancellation for the promoters. In short, I think its more likely that the government’s response will be to offer more concessions on compensation and mitigation in an attempt to reduce support for the judicial reviews than to react as you suggest.

              Yes re community forums. That’s part of my point. Perfectly possible to engage constructively in these whilst the judicial review process goes on. I don’t think any of this will come as a particular surprise to government.

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