HS2 rail opponents win right to seek judicial review
High Court breakthrough for protest groups after government 'mislays' more than 400 submissions
OPPONENTS of HS2 - the proposed high speed train line from London to the Midlands – have reacted with delight to yesterday's High Court decision that they should be granted the right to seek a judicial review against the plans. Eight days have been set aside for a court hearing, starting on December 3.
The government's controversial project, run by H2S Ltd, has been widely condemned by several Tory backbenchers as well as by environmentalists and local councils. Even the Prime Minister's father-in-law, Lord Astor, has joined the chorus of disapproval. He and other protestors argue that the high-speed trains will ruin the lives of local residents and spoil the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
In what The Daily Telegraph calls "a further victory" for H2S opponents, the High Court agreed to cap the legal costs of one of the main protest groups, the HS2 Action Alliance.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening will have to explain at the December hearing why the responses from the Action Alliance and other protest groups out were left out of last year's consultation process.
"Not only does the judge agree our cases should be, and will be heard, but the Secretary of State has been forced to account for her actions in seemingly ignoring many consultation responses," said Hilary Wharf, director of the HS2 Action Alliance, an umbrella body representing 73 action groups.
In all, 413 individual submissions from opponents were "mislaid", according to the Coventry Telegraph. The submission by the Alliance ran to 150 pages.
The proposed London to Midlands line is due to be completed by 2025/26. It is just the start of an ambitious £33bn plan to drive a high-speed rail service all the way from London to the northeast and northwest.
The H2S project has its backers. Among them is the record industry tycoon Pete Waterman who believes the HS2 line will end the 'north-south divide' in Britain.