You will probably be aware that last Friday the Judge in the High Court gave his decision on cases brought against the Department for Transport about High Speed 2. The County Council and all the Buckinghamshire District Councils have been united in opposing this project as it will do immense harm to the county and its residents whilst delivering no benefits to us. More importantly at £34 billion it is very poor value for all hard pressed taxpayers’ money and better alternatives exist. We challenged the lack of consultation on the principle of the scheme, particularly for those people and businesses north of Birmingham whose lives and homes will be blighted for decades but who had no effective say in the consultation. We also challenged on environmental grounds, arguing that a full ‘Strategic Environmental Assessment’ should have been carried out first to understand the impact of the route chosen. Lastly, we strongly believed that the far cheaper and better value alternative that we put forward had not been fairly considered.
The result was that the Judge found the consultation on compensation ‘so unfair as to be unlawful’. This is a major win for those opposing the scheme as it will mean that the Government will have to re-consult and we hope that better compensation will be offered. The Judge did not support our argument on consultation on the scheme itself for the bizarre reason that he accepted the Government’s argument that it had actually made ‘no decisions’ whatsoever on HS2. Many of us felt that we must have been living in a parallel universe for the past three years given all the announcements! He also felt that the challenge on environmental grounds was ‘too early’. He rejected the Government’s claim that they had already done enough environmental appraisals.
Immediately afterwards the Judge gave us permission to Appeal on the Environmental issues and the failure to consider the alternatives. This is good news and reflects the strength of our case.
I know that some people argue that we should not be supporting our residents in this way. However, given that the Government is spending some £750 millions promoting this project that will change the county forever, if we do not stand up for our residents against something like this, who will? I am proud to do so. We are also continuing to work with HS2 to try and get the best mitigation possible should the scheme go ahead.
Martin Tett Leader, Buckinghamshire County Council.
With all the cuts and increasing taxes coming in today to pay for hs2 and other projects that this govenment thinks we need one would think they would use these saving to pay of what the country owes already .they say we are all in it together but they just keep on waisting vast amounts of money on projects that no one wants .so why don’t they start with saving 32 billion plus and put a stop to to hs2
As a ratepayer I am pleased that the effected Councils are questioning this ill considered, unilateral imposition on their Counties.
The Cabinet urges us to accept that HS2 is like HS1, whilst ignoring the planning history, time-course and history of the HS1 scheme.
The Current HS2 is akin to the first HS1 route that ran through SE London and took 20 years to effectively plan.
HS1 and HS2 should join up,sadly they are on opposite sides of a huge metropolis and for reasons not disclosed a Westerly exit from London avoiding all transit corridors and the most damaging environmentally has been chosen as opposed to one servicing MIlton Keynes or using transport corridors as was the case with the revised HS1.
The reasons are likely to be financial and dark, cynical, politics a refined political Nimbyism related to marginals (avoid or reward) and loyal wards that can be harmed but likely not lost.
As there has been no proper parliamentary debate before the plan that is not a plan is being effectively implemented (and at great public cost) Judicial Review was the only recourse open to the authorities albeit with its limitations.
The government have knowingly adopted and promoted a ‘plan’ they know to be flawed and damaging.
It will be very damaging and disruptive to the county its communities, businesses and tourism.
The impact on the peace of the Chilterns will be enormous and the ‘sound’ studies are very likely inaccurate.
The Chilterns AONB is a very special landscape which has been cherished and preserved for generations providing a valuable resource to London at the end of the ‘tube’. There is also its associated chalk stream/river/aquifer system which provides London with water.
I am pleased that a small proportion of the rates be used for this express purpose to challenge and ill considered scheme.
It is important that the local politics is not confused with the national politics and also to support the opinion of local opposing MPs.
The Cabinet has ignored and labelled the dissent by its own constituents and local political representation in a manner that is quite transparent and calculated. Indeed it is true to their increasingly dictatorial anti-country pro urban policies and is taken as a deliberate ‘risk’ based on demography and voting. This is indeed a New Conservative Party and one that is both inexperienced,impulsive and floats poorly considered policies with great conviction and much propaganda/spin. We have seen many such ill planned policies/systemic changes without proper consideration of the long term ourcome from forestry to guaranteed mortgages. Indeed the HS2 project is spending enormous amounts of civil service and consultancy time and money on spin, which would have been better spent on re-evaluating Lord Adonis’s original flawed proposal and route.
It is likely this is a one term coalition government and that HS2 will have its hybrid bill introduced but not debated in its lifetime.
HS2 may have considerable significance in 2015 rather as Heathrow and the ‘environment’ had in 2010. We have seen how Heathrow and the environment have been manipulated politically by the Cabinet in a manner that lacks integrity and honesty with the electorate and local political representation.
I read in this morning papers that a village wants hs2 to buy all of the houses in the village and move them to make a new village away from the line for the cost of 7million pounds .i only want to move to be near my elderly parents .but cannot due to this project being built .the agents have told me you can’t give the the property away any where within 2miles of the line the banks will not fund the money so what chance have we have to get on with our lives .unless the govenment helps or stops this project
to get a better mitigation consider moving the route alignments. They are not proven to be in the sea positions as sea requires combined client and uk national bodies assessments. This was not done for some 2010 to 2013 location changes and for some road changes.
We must keep fighting this, otherwise we go back to when the lords and barons treated the peasants as just a way to get taxes.I look forward to the day we show them we are not those peasants and they will not walk over us.
I wish you the very best in your fight and I hope the scheme doesnt get off the drawing board