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HS2 protesters await judicial review ruling
6:00pm Friday 20th April 2012 in Oxford
CAMPAIGNERS will hear within two months if a legal bid to stop the controversial £33bn HS2 Rail link is approved.
Group 51M, made up of councils up and down the line, is seeking permission to launch a judicial review over a Government decision to press ahead with the line in January.
The 225mph trains would run between London and Birmingham, skirting villages in north east Oxfordshire including Finmere and Mixbury.
But 51M say the Government failed to consult people, that the decision was based on inadequate environmental information and there are concerns over the impact on London’s Euston station.
The appeal was launched earlier this month and a decision whether the group can press forward with a judicial review is expected by the end of June.
Martin Tett, 51M chairman and leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said: “We are doing this with great reluctance but feel that the Government has left us with no alternative.
“They effectively excluded over half those affected by the proposal from participating in the consultation and in practice ignored the views of more than 50,000 people and businesses who did respond.
“Worse still, it is clear that there is a much cheaper and more efficient alternative way to meet growth in demand. We have clear legal advice that there is a substantial case to be made.
“By working together we will share the costs and minimise the impact on individual council budgets.”
Cherwell District Council is also part of 51M and has so far contributed £50,000.
Bernie Douglas, chairman of action group VOxOpp, (Villages of Oxfordshire opposed to HS2) said there were four separate legal challenges being made, including 51M’s.
A Department for Transport spokesman said Network Rail predicted the West Coast main line would be full by the mid 2020s and building a new line was the best option.
He said: “We believe we have struck the right balance between the reasonable concerns of people living on or near the line, who will be offered a package of compensation measures, the environment and the need to keep Britain moving.”