HS2 Update for May 2012

HS2: Legal action commences

Wendover HS2 is delighted to announce that we have now reached the initial fundraising target in our legal fighting fund. This forms our contribution towards the legal costs of taking the Government to court by Judicial Review over High Speed 2. Our sincere thanks go out to all those who have contributed. The fighting fund will stay open for the time being.

The claimant in this legal action is the HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA Ltd) working closely with us and many other action and residents’ groups. As seen in the news, HS2AA Ltd announced that they will be proceeding with legal action on two fronts. One case concerns environmental issues, and the other is about fighting for a fair deal for compensation. In both cases, HS2AA argues, the Government has failed to follow the proper processes required.

A spokesman for HS2AA Ltd said: “We have two strong legal teams who are specialists in their fields and believe we have two powerful cases that Government must now answer. SJ Berwins with David Elvin, QC, of Landmark Chambers are handling our environmental case, and Leigh Day & Co with David Wolfe, QC, of Matrix Chambers our compensation case.”
Wendover HS2 Campaign Team

Six minutes to save the Chilterns!

Government documents show that an HS2 route alongside the M1 would only take London-Birmingham trains six minutes longer than the chosen route through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Beauty. Yet because of the way small time-savings are valued in the HS2 business case (and totalled over a 60-year period) and because it would be slightly more expensive, the Government says the route alongside the motorway is unacceptable. We must keep stressing the unique quality of the Chilterns AONB and argue that if the Government wishes to build the line, it should follow a route alongside existing motorways and not run through protected countryside.

One way you could help is by writing to Prince Charles, at Clarence House, London, SW1A 1BA, telling him of your concern that the current HS2 plan with its viaduct across Wendover Dean will cause a terrible eyesore in the protected Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You could mention that the Government has rejected less damaging routes alongside existing motorways because the route through the Chilterns would be just 6 minutes quicker. The Government’s appraisal of the project’s environmental sustainability also reveals that the M1 route is less damaging environmentally.
Wendover Stop HS2

Environmental impact of HS2

On Monday 26 March, the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust took the unprecedented action of writing to the European Commission claiming that the UK Government chose the High Speed Rail (HS2) route between London and Birmingham without taking proper account of its environmental impacts.

The Government did not carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) which would have required a thorough investigation of the environmental impacts of the HS2 route and viable alternatives.

As a result, the process used by HS2 Ltd ignored vital information about the potential impacts of HS2 on nature reserves, protected species and important wildlife sites, claims the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust.

Philippa Lyons, Chief Executive of BBOWT, explains why the Trust is taking this action: “The Government believed it wasn’t necessary to carry out an SEA. As a result they didn’t know about the nature reserves cut through by the route, or the precious woodland habitats of Bernwood Forest, where the very rare Bechstein’s bats were discovered by a local bat group.

“The Wildlife Trust has never before been driven to complain to the European Commission, but the refusal of this Government to take proper account of wildlife issues when deciding on HS2 is beyond belief. Even now it is refusing to take our advice and carry out proper environmental assessments for Phase 2 of the HS2 route.”

The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust is collaborating with four other Wildlife Trusts affected by HS2 Phase 1, other conservation groups and the HS2 Action Alliance, which recently sent a letter to the Government calling for a Judicial Review of its decision to go ahead without doing an SEA.

“The European Commission will not investigate our complaint while the UK courts are examining the same issues,” says Philippa Lyons. “But by submitting the complaint now, these important issues are on the Commissioner’s desk ready for immediate investigation. If the UK courts either refuse to examine them or decide they do not contravene UK legislation, the EC will be able to investigate them instead.”

The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust highlighted the impacts of the HS2 proposed route on wildlife in its response to the Government’s consultation during 2011. Thousands of responses raised similar concerns, with the vast majority calling on the Government to think again about HS2, but these were ignored by the Secretary of State when the route was announced in January this year.