The final day of a nine day legal marathon of judicial reviews relating to HS2 concluded yesterday with the Government’s response to HS2AA’s case concerning the proposed compensation arrangements for households affected by blight. The Government’s defence included some surprising assertions from counsel for the Secretary of State for Transport, Tim Mould QC including:
- The Government now viewed the promises made by Philip Hammond, the previous Secretary of State for Transport, that people affected by HS2 would receive fair compensation, as not actually meaning fair from the householders’ perspective.
- A clarification that the full cost of property blight was not included in the business case prepared by the Department for Transport (DfT) in support of HS2, but only included the Government’s compensation scheme element, and not the uncompensated loss borne by individuals.
- On the issue of lost consultation responses, the Department for Transport were unable to say when, if ever, the company responsible for analysing consultation responses (Dialogue by Design) had taken account of HS2AA’s full submission. The judge ordered that the DfT clarify this issue for the court by next week.
- They no longer relied upon a 6-page summary that had been ascribed to HS2AA in the consultation (that was in fact a briefing document), but a separate analysis of key stakeholder responses conducted by their own officials, that used HS2AA’s full response.
- On the issue of rejecting the Property Bond, they firstly admitted to problems with their justification that it had received low support overall; and secondly that input to the ‘costs and risks’ reasons bizarrely was said to come from HS2AA itself.
It was an interesting day.