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Government could help fund environmental legal challenge on HS2.

Following the announcement last week that the 51m group, representing 18 local authorities has given notice of their intention to launch a legal challenge against HS2, a second letter of intent has been delivered to Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening MP by HS2 Action Alliance. HS2 Action Alliance  is a not for profit organisation working with over 70 groups, as well as STOPHS2 and AGAHST and is supported in seeking legal recourse by four Wildlife Trusts along the route, the Chilterns Conservation Board and Conserve the Chilterns and Countryside.

Whilst the action proposed last week by 51m concentrates on the democratic deficit shown in the public consultation, the challenge headed up by HS2AA will focus on environmental issues, namely the failure of the DfT to comply with the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Regulations 2004 and the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. The SEA regulations require that a full environmental impact analysis of both a proposed infrastructure project and it’s alternatives before even getting to the stage of initiating a public consultation. The Public Consultation ended in summer 2011, but the DfT only started surveying the land for environmental impacts this month, and has agreed to pay landowners £1,000 each for access rights to complete surveys.

HS2AA  Director Thomas Crane said:

“HS2 is an environmental disaster for our country. It will irreversibly damage many landscapes, ancient woodlands and wildlife habitats which simply cannot be replaced. It will also do nothing to reduce carbon emissions. If the government had done the assessment properly they simply would not have reached the conclusion they did. The DfT and HS2 Ltd has ridden roughshod over public opinion and many expert voices to ignore all viable alternatives in its desperation to promote HS2.  We are still hopeful that Justine Greening will see sense and halt a project which offers such limited benefit for so much environmental damage.” 

Stop HS2 Campaign Co-ordinator Joe Rukin said;

“Up until now, all the work done in assessing the environmental impact of HS2 has been done by volunteers and charities, as the Government hasn’t cared at all about doing HS2 properly, they want it done quickly no matter what the financial or environmental cost. The Wildlife Trusts have estimated that there will be direct or indirect loss and damage to 48 ancient woodlands, 30 river corridors and 77 local wildlife sites as well as other nature reserves and SSSIs, but the Government are only starting their assessment of this damage now, after deciding to go ahead with HS2.” 

“The fact that these assessments were totally absent from the public consultation, along with a back of a fag packet business case shows it wasn’t consultation, it was an insultation. When Justine Greening was fighting the third runway at Heathrow, she said that if ministers would not listen in Parliament then they would have to listen in the courts, and now that will come back to haunt her. The fact the DfT are only commencing with the environmental assessments now does have a silver lining though. With landowners getting £1000 each from Government to grant access rights to surveyors, we are asking them to pass the money or a proportion of it on to help fund the judicial review. We understand that some landowners will not be able to do this, but for those who can spare the cash, we think it would be a sweet irony if money which Government are paying now, because they haven’t done the job properly, is used to prove that they haven’t done the job properly in court.”

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 legal challenge. People can also pay directly into our account at Lloyds-TSB, Sort Code 30-94-93, Account no, 34934760. Please make it clear your donation is toward the Judicial Review.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Regulations 2004 implemented the EU Directive on the Assessment of Certain Plans and Programmes on the Environment (and is known as Directive 2001/42/EC).  The main objective of the SEA directive is to ‘…provide for a high level of environmental protection and to contribute to the integration of environmental considerations into the preparation and adoption of plans and programmes…’ (Article 1 of the SEA Directive)
  2. The EU Habitats Directive aims to protect the wild plants, animals and habitats that make up our diverse natural environment. The directive created a network of protected areas around the European Union of national and international importance. Protection Areas support significant numbers of   wild birds and their habitats.  In the UK, the Habitats Directive is implemented by the Conservation of habitats and species regulations 2010 (SI no. 2010/490) more commonly known as the Habitats Regulations.
  3. For more information contact Joe Rukin on 07811 371880 or Penny Gaines on 07765 780553.
  4. There will be a public meeting in Kenilworth on Wednesday 15th February at 7.15pm. Venue – Kenilworth Sports & Social Club, Upper Rosemary Hill
  5. More details on how to donate to the legal challenge can be found at http://stophs2.org/news/388-send-money
  6. People can sign the petition against HS2 at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/353

 

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