HS2 Ltd, the company which the PACAC Committee recently concluded have a “complete disregard for the people, some of them vulnerable, who are impacted by this large-scale infrastructure project.” , have proved this is their attitude yet again, by challenging the right to be heard (locus standi) of over 100 petitioners against the HS2 Bill in the House of Lords.
It had been clear within the Stop HS2 Campaign that HS2 Ltd have been gearing up to make far more challenges in the Lords than they did in the Commons, purely in an attempt to speed up the process. At the start of petitioning in the House of Commons, the only people to be challenged were those determined to be ‘off the route’ of Phase 1, though HS2 Ltd deemed anyone from Phase 2 who petitioned, but lives less than 300 metres from the proposed Phase 2 route should be allowed.
No local action groups were challenged at the start of the process in the Commons, but the two national bodies, Stop HS2 and HS2 Action Alliance were both challenged and both won locus standi. Despite winning locus standi last time, Stop HS2 had been challenged again, and the feedback so far suggests every single HS2 action group will be challenged this time.
Action groups, along with other organisations and scores of individuals make up over 100 petitioners from the total of 820, that we know have been challenged at this point, with locus challenges still being delivered as this is written.
It seems that in the case of action groups, HS2 Ltd state that they do not represent anyone. But, given that people petitioning on compensation have effectively been told “That’s nothing to do with the Bill for HS2”, and we already know of a case of a couple who have been challenged even though HS2 Ltd is taking some of their land, it seems the word ‘scattergun’ is the only one that sums up their approach.
The reason HS2 Ltd are doing this is clearly summed up by the link to precedents on locus standi hearings, which they have circulated with the challenges. Basically, according to the precedents they have sent out to people, if you get challenged on locus standi, you lose, you might as well give up now. This is simply not the case.
Many of the people getting the challenges were surely already saying “What the hell is this?” in what is already a maze of a process, and when they see information which is trying to say “You might as well give up now” may well do so. Please don’t.
There would of course be a couple of precedents which anyone with any sense whatsoever might think are appropriate in this case, especially for action groups, the previously mentioned wins of HS2AA & Stop HS2 in the Commons during the passage of this very bill. But winning locus standi is not anything like as rare as HS2 Ltd are trying to make out. They have been shown to be an organisation with a “Culture of Misinformation”, and this action is just another incident that proves it.
We will have more when we have been fully able to assess the situation and have a total number of the challenges. We will, and we’re sure HS2AA, AGHAST and others will join us, be doing everything we can to help people understand and fight these locus standi challenges. Everyone being challenged has the right to be heard on that challenge before the committee, and that is likely to be in the next few weeks. Three weeks notice should be required. If you are being challenged and do not think you will be available in the next 3-5 weeks or so, you need to start thinking now about appointing someone else as an agent if you want your case to be heard.
We will have more next week, but for now please remember, HS2 Ltd are doing this because they want to speed things up, and they want to shut you up. It is them, not the Lords who are doing this.
Don’t give up, we are with you. This is simply another case of HS2 Ltd trying to bully the people most affected by HS2.