More from Court – Day 1

The main arguments on Monday were:

1. The Government has taken a strategic decision to build the whole route from London to Manchester and Leeds but in practice only consulted with people who would be affected between London and Birmingham.

2. That the Government failed to properly consult on the alternative scheme proposed by 51m which would have met all of the forecast demand at a fraction of the cost and with a return  on the cost to the taxpayer some six times greater than HS2.

3. That key information which would have enabled the public and businesses to make an informed judgement was withheld. This relates specifically to the Government’s repeated refusal, even in response to Freedom of Information requests, to release information on how full the West Coast Mainline route was. This  was despite  repeated statements from the then Secretary of State that current overcrowding was a fundamental reason to pursue HS2. In a dramatic development in Court, the Government solicitor admitted that ‘commercial confidentiality’ would no longer be claimed and the information would be released.

4. That the Government has not carried out an appropriate Environmental assessment.

Councillor Martin Tett, Chairman of 51m and Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council said

“All public bodies must operate within the law. It is clear today that the Department for Transport have failed to do this. It is totally unfair that hundreds of thousands of people north of Birmingham, whose lives, homes and businesses will potentially be blighted by HS2 have effectively been denied any ability to take part in a major decision that will change their lives. I am also shocked that we have now discovered that the Department for Transports key argument that the West Coast Mainline is full is misleading. Their own figures, released in Court today, show that the WCML is only 52% full leaving Euston in the evening peak. This looks like another WCML franchise fiasco in the making.”

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