HS2 Views – House of Lords Select Committee Appearances

On the 8th June I went to the House of Lords Select Committee on HS2 to appeal the challenge of Locus Standi against someone I was representing as an agent. It was illuminating to say the least, if not edifying. The HoL select committee are being chaired by a ‘dry as dust Lord’ and the focus seemed very much on the legal aspects and jargon involved. Clearly the strategy adopted by HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport is to minimize the number of petitions that have to be heard. Their approach has been to challenge most individuals and a fair number of organisations. When the petitioner says they are specifically impacted, the promoter’s response is ‘yes but the Parish Council will cover this so you do not need to hear them’. As you would expect they have not consulted the Parish council about this….The other major difference to the House of Commons is that you have no right of reply at least in these appeals; so you give your pitch, Mr Mould or Mr Stranchan then proceed to tell the Select Committee that you do not need to be heard, quote a few misleading examples and then make any other assertions they feel like. They have the last word – of course you can use non-verbal actions to get your point across – shaking of head, rolling of eyes and so on, but it is very frustrating.

My advice for those who have yet to appear before the Select Committee is make sure you focus on the specific impacts of HS2 to you that are not covered by the Parish Council petition. Emphasise that you are the expert on this and should be heard. I would still urge people to make the trip up to the House of Lords so they can at least register the depth of feeling HS2 evokes.

For those who are rejected, and I am sorry to say I feel there will be quite a few, all is not lost. The Parish Council could take your point(s) but will need the specific point and evidence you would have presented if they are going to do so. Obviously the Council will look after the generic issues, however the specific facts of how it impacts different people such as yourselves will help bring their case alive with your help.

As an exercise in democracy this is a poor example when taxpayers money is employed to stifle the voice of the people. Let us hope the HoL Select Committee stop being led by the nose by HS2 and start showing the independence of mind the House of Lords is renowned for.

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