HS2 compensation consultation ruled unlawful, but Government being ‘foolish’ is legal.

In a ruling which could significantly raise the costs of the proposed HS2 project, Lord Justice Ouseley has deemed the 2011 consultation on compensation for Stage 1 of the HS2 route to “so unfair as to be unlawful”. Decisions on compensation have now been quashed and a new consultation will have to be run. It was ruled that previous Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening had not made her decision based on the criteria of the consultation, but on the cost of compensation, and that people were not provided with enough information on various schemes.

Lord Justice Ouseley dismissed environmental challenges, saying that they Appraisal of Sustainability which formed part of the 2011 consultation would have been insufficient if a decision on HS2 had been made, but backed the defence from the Department for Transport that their HS2 ‘decisions document’ was a ‘plan’ and it was up to Parliament to make a decision. The Judge also stated that the decision of the DfT not to release the actual passenger numbers on current lines during the consultation was not significant, despite the figures showing the lines are far from capacity, which is in conflict with the claims of the politicians who say this is the reason HS2 must be built.

On the issues of potentially dumping an extra 100,000 people per day into Euston without any way of dispersing them, and causing chaos on the North London Line, the Judge said that claimants might be right about this, but it did not mean that the decision to promote a bill causing these problems without offering a solution was unlawful.

Campaign Manager Joe Rukin said;

“Hundreds of thousands of homeowners can take solace from the ruling that they were not properly consulted on compensation, and that the Government decided that they did not want to properly compensate people for loss, but instead to work to an increasingly implausible budget. The simple fact is that Government do not want to compensate people based on real loss, because that will jack the budget up beyond anything palatable to Parliament. The reality is that HS2 is already over budget 4 years before the first sod in the ground is due to be turned, because the Government has written a blank cheque to consultants working on the project.”

“Put simply, these rulings show is it is not illegal for the Government to behave irresponsibly, promoting a bloated vanity project, which will only benefit the richest in society, whilst making savage cuts elsewhere. It may not be illegal to do this, but it is immoral. The case from politicians for this white elephant is based on sentiment, sound-bite and spin. They’ve not thought it through, they’ve just tried to push it through, and we will continue to push them back.”

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said

“This was not a public inquiry, which would have looked at all the information about a high speed rail proposal.  The judicial review was specifically looking at the Secretary of State’s decision making process.  The judge wasn’t even looking at whether the Secretary of State had made a bad decision, just at the process itself.  And he found that there were mistakes in the decision making process.   In fact, the judge explicitly said that he had not reached at the a view on the merits of HS2.  We are now on the fourth Secretary of State for Transport since the initial announcement, and it is not surprising that errors are being made.

Unlike the judge, Stop HS2 has looked for any merits in the HS2 proposal and found that they just aren’t there.  We think that HS2 is a bad project, and that the costs will just escalate.  The government have already spent a quarter of a billion pounds and spent three years, and we think that the Department for Transport should stop wasting taxpayer’s money, and Parliamentary time, and cancel this project immediately.”

Deanne DuKhan, director of Agahst said
“The campaign against HS2 is stronger than ever.  Since the Y route was announced in January, we’ve been flooded with inquiries and people wanting to help us.  Thousands more people know about this scheme now and they don’t like what they see.  This is the last thing they want to have £33 billion spent on.”

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4 comments to “HS2 compensation consultation ruled unlawful, but Government being ‘foolish’ is legal.”
  1. as a judicial review the judge can only say whether or not the process was in place and then adhered too. in 9 out of the ten cases he held that hs2 and the govt had done so. he did not have the authority to state whether or not hs2 should go ahead especially as parliament hasnt even voted on it. it would not be very democratic if individual judges were to be able to decide these matters in such a way.

    it is actually good that the whole issue of compensation be revisited and redone. although i am a supporter of hs2 i have always believed that those affected should be recompensed more than adequately for the diusruption and loss of house/business/amenity that hs2 will cause.however it is a bit much to then complain about rising costs when these have arisen because of extra mitigation and or compensation demanded by those same people.

    nothing has changed really however as hs2 should and will go ahead as much of the oppositionto hs2 is based on an inadequate understanding of the facts. for example, on the guardian blog yesterday it wass quite clear that the majority of those against hs2 didnt know much about it at all and had obviously not read all the information available online. this is no way to make a rational informed decision about such an expensive and important project.

    • I wonder if there would be less opposition if a fair compensation scheme was in place. Most people around here couldn’t care less about HS2. What they do care about though is that if they need to move, the value of their house may be down by 25 – 40%, or their property deemed unsuitable for mortgage finance as happened to the well publicised recent case in Turweston.

      If this situation was going to last for a couple of years or so, then most people would probably just sit and wait. But as it stands compensation cannot be claimed until after the railway has been running for a year – i.e. 2027 South of Birmingham and 2033 North of Birmingham. Property blight on this scale has not been seen before with such a large number of people affected and over such a long period of time.

      A lot of people are facing massive financial losses and intrusion into their lives and plans for the future because of HS2. For most people, this is the boundary for their rationality. If the government insists on pressing on with HS2 they will have to deal with the issue of blight or the legal challenges and opposition will continue. And if they can’t afford the compensation, then they can’t afford to build the railway.

  2. Lord Justice Ouseley judgment ” would have been insufficient if a decision on HS2 had been made, but backed the defence from the Department for Transport that their HS2 ‘decisions document’ was a ‘plan’ and it was up to Parliament to make a decision”
    raises an interesting issue in respect of blight and compensation.
    My understanding is compensation is not payable if you bought a property with the DFT ‘plan’ was known to you in principle,even if for example the various parties were still uncertain as to the route or if the geographical extent of the blight was not. If this decisions document was not a plan until parliament makes the decision does that alter the criteria for the inclusion into the compensation scheme for properties? . The official blight is 120M whereas the real geographical blight is 1km.
    My understanding is that the Minister will re-run the consultation but will he re-run the same limited scope consultation, he still thinks it is ‘generous’.

  3. Great to get your update on the news about the JRs. HS2 is not a done deal for so many reasons but the compensation is just one important issues to keep working to Stop HS2

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