Judicial Review News

Wed 13th Dec

Case Summary ( from Stop HS2 site ) + Daily Telegraph report

Wed 5th Dec

HS2AA - Update

David Elvin QC began making HS2AA's case yesterday afternoon (after lawyers for the 51M group of local authorities had completed their submissions) and continued for most of today.

HS2AA's submissions focused on how the Government had acted unlawfully in not complying with key European environmental legal obligations. In particular HS2AA state that the Government has acted unlawfully because it has not properly assessed the environmental impacts of HS2 which it should have done before proceeding with the scheme. 

Particular points raised included:

  • The Government has not complied with the SEA Regulations which is aimed at ensuring Environmental impacts are properly assessed at an early stage in decision making.
  • That the proposed national high speed network was a "plan or program" (and not a project) and hence fell under the SEA Regulations. These regulations require, amongst other things,  that reasonable alternatives to the HS2 proposals be developed including their environmental implications and consulting on them
  • that the Governments declaration of their approach in the 2010 White Paper on high speed rail had created an "administrative requirement" and hence a full strategic environment assessment had to be carried out on the proposals for hs2.
  • That the Government had ignored its obligations under the Habitats Directive to undertake a required screening exercise to assess impacts on protected species and habitats
  • That the Government had not complied with provisions of the Aarhus Convention it's decisions in this area.
  • That the Government had made significant changes to the route after the 2011 consultation but failed to reconsult on these changes
  • That the requirements of the Environmental impact Assessment Directive, another key measure designed to protect the environment, would not be followed should the Government proceed with its current plans to progress authorisation for HS2 through a special parliamentary process known as a hybrid bill.

The case continues ..

Richard Houghton

Tue 4th Dec

Stop HS2 - press release

HS2 link to Heathrow would throw away 70p in every pound spent.

On day two of the Judicial Reviews being held into HS2 at the Royal Courts of Justice, it has been revealed that the proposed link from HS2 to Heathrow airport would have a benefit cost ratio (BCR) of 0.3:1, meaning that for every pound spent the country would only ever get 30p back. This information comes straight from those running the project, as it was part of an internal memorandum from HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Alison Munro, sent in November 2011, which was obtained under disclosure. In the memo, Munro added that she did not believe it was possible to get make the Heathrow link show a positive return.

This information formed part of the evidence submitted from Nathalie Lieven QC, acting on behalf of 15 of the local authorities comprising 51m. She went on to read out evidence given to the Transport Select Committee by previous Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond, who had stated that the DfT would no longer even consider projects with a BCR less than 1:1. Lieven also pointed out that in relation to Heathrow, based on HS2 Ltds own projections, an average of only 102 passengers are due to travel on HS2 trains to Heathrow, with on 14% actually intending to go to the airport itself, with the other 86% intending to go to West London or Reading.

The main part of evidence heard in the court from 51m today concerned the irrationality of the decision to proceed with HS2, which besides looking at the way the Heathrow spur link had been bolted on as a misguided afterthought, concentrated on the impacts in Camden.

One of these matters was that if HS2 were to hit passenger projections, Euston station would simply be unable to cope and that, as Mayor of London Boris Johnson has stated, it could necessitate the building of ‘Crossrail 2’. The inability to disburse passengers at Euston could mean people waiting as long as half an hour for the tube and could cause problems on the entire network with too many people trying to get back to Euston, and it was argued that it was simply irresponsible to HS2 to proceed without considering effects such as these. The other matter concerning Camden and the irrationality of HS2 are the plans to use the North London (overground) line to link it to HS1. This would have severe effects both for the current line and Camden which have not been considered.

The day ended with David Elvin QC outlining the beginning of the HS2AA environmental case, stating precedential implementations of the Strategic Environmental Assessment regulations, which campaigners believe the Government has breached.

( More from Stop HS2 )

Mon 3rd Dec

Stop HS2 News Item,
51m Press release -

Fifteen local authorities have been in court this morning to present their case that the Government has effectively 'cut corners' and failed to consult effectively on the principle of building HS2, has withheld key information from the public and failed to carry out a proper environmental assessment.

The main arguments today have been:

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."