Yesterday the Court set the timetable on the case against High Speed 2 (HS2). The judge agreed that the five cases against HS2 will all be heard and sets the date for the hearings; he caps the opposition’s costs and he opens the door to further amendments to the claims.
The Government’s solicitors and the five parties challenging the lawfulness of Justine Greening’s January 2012 announcement to proceed with the controversial high speed rail network (HS2) had their first meeting in court today. His Honour Mr Justice Ouseley presided over a “Case Management Conference” which confirmed how the five challenges to HS2 will be heard by the court. It was agreed that
- The claims will all be heard: The five different claims brought in respect of the Secretary of State’s decision to proceed with HS2 will be heard in the High Court starting on 3 December 2012. It is anticipated that the court will sit for eight days to hear the cases.
- The cases will be heard together but organised separately: There will be an agreed running order and the Court will give its decision after all cases have been heard.
- Justine Greening required to explain consultation errors: Three of the four parties bringing cases (HS2AA, 51M, and Heathrow Hub, as) made clear to the court during today’s hearing that the news last week that their 2011 consultation responses had been omitted could now affect their grounds for challenge. The Secretary of State has been required to provide a full explanation for what happened. The judge agreed their cases could then be amended if required.
- Further hearing scheduled. It was agreed that there would be a further hearing in October dealing with the Government’s continuing refusal to release official data on passengers numbers on the West Coast Main Line.
- Costs will be capped: It was confirmed that HS2AA were successful in their application to have their costs capped, at £25,000 for each of their two cases.
Speaking to the Bucks Free Press, Martin Tett,Bucks CC leader and chairman of 51m, said: “It’s a good decision, we’re really pleased. It’s good news, not just for the local people we represent but for hard pressed tax payers across the country.”
Chiltern District Councillor Andrew Garnet added: “It’s not time to open the champagne bottle but we are going to get our day in court and have the chance to expose HS2’s deficiencies.”
Hilary Wharf, Director HS2AA said “We are very pleased with today’s decision. Not only does the Judge agree our cases should be, and will be heard, but the Secretary of State has been forced to account for her actions in seemingly ignoring many consultation responses.
The fact that three of the four claimants in this case have had their consultation responses mishandled is unbelievable. But it does explain why the Government seemed not to be listening, – because they weren’t. We were pleased that the judge allowed us to amend our case to reflect these developments.
The Government should stop hiding behind its lawyers and release the capacity data which is so fundamental to their case for HS2.
The hearing in December 2012 will provide communities from Euston to Staffordshire with the opportunity so many having been waiting so long for – to show the court why we think the decision to proceed with HS2 was unlawful.
I would like to thank our two legal teams who have worked so hard to get us to this point and the many thousands of supporters who contributed to the legal fund, without which HS2AA could not have afforded justice.”
On 20th July 413 people and organisations (including 3 taking judicial reviews, and the personal submission of Joe Rukin, the Stop HS2 Campaign Manager) learnt from HS2 Ltd that their detailed response to the 2011 consultation got lost due to ‘processing errors’. Despite this HS2 Ltd say none of the omitted responses introduced any new matters hence they say the consultation summary and HS2 decision still stand.