The government began its defence of the HS2 rail line this afternoon with Tim Mould QC making the surprise announcement that the Secretary of State had ‘not made a decision to proceed with the HS2 rail scheme’ as it was still ‘only a policy’.
Fifteen local authorities have been in High Court this week challenging the Secretary of State’s ‘decision’ to run a High Speed railway from London via Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds. The local councils stated that the project has not been properly consulted on. In particular, HS2 has not been properly environmentally assessed as a whole so that residents and business affected could make a properly informed response.
Councillor Martin Tett, Chairman of the 51m alliance of local authorities and Leader of Bucks County Council said: “Today’s revelation is jaw-dropping and frankly farcical beyond belief. If the Secretary of State’s ‘Decision Paper’ is not a ‘decision’ then what is it? I think the whole Government and indeed most of the country know that they have made this decision and yet now they claim they have not. This is the same DfT that today’s Laidlaw Report has criticised so strongly for its dysfunctional working. HS2 is beginning to sound a lot like another WCML fiasco in the making.”
Cllr Sarah Hayward Leader of London Borough of Camden added: “The Government said today ‘it just wants to put an end to the process.’ What about our residents who fear losing their homes and businesses and the communities under threat . When will it end for them?”
The Judicial Review cases continue next week with HS2 Action Alliance’s on compensation and Aylesbury Golf Club putting their individual cases to Lord Justice Ouseley.
The outcome of each of the five judicial reviews is expected in mid-January 2013.