Lat­est HS2 ap­peal goes in the same di­rec­tion

The bat­tle to stop HS2 in its tracks has been fought in the High Court. Le­gal ex­pert JON MOW­BRAY from Che­sham law firm IBB Solic­i­tors of­fers his view on the story so far

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS -

THE lat­est le­gal chal­lenge to the HS2 project in­volved an ap­peal against a High Court rul­ing made in July 2014, which dis­missed a claim by HS2 Ac­tion Al­liance and the London bor­ough of Hilling­don for a ju­di­cial re­view.

The claimants were seek­ing to chal­lenge the safe­guard­ing di­rec­tions which were made by the sec­re­tary of state for trans­port to pro­tect land be­tween London and Birm­ing­ham.

They ar­gued that the ef­fect of the di­rec­tions was to pro­hibit forms of de­vel­op­ment on the land they cover, re­gard­less of the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of do­ing so, and that they placed a con­straint on the plan­ning decision-mak­ing of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties along the pro­posed route and fur­ther afield.

The fact that the di­rec­tions were not limited in du­ra­tion had the ef­fect, the claimants ar­gued, of ster­il­is­ing the land in­def­i­nitely.

They were there­fore seek­ing a rul­ing that the di­rec­tions should, un­der Euro­pean law, be sub­ject to a strate­gic en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment prior to adop­tion, in­clud­ing an as­sess­ment of rea­son­able al­ter­na­tives.

To suc­ceed they needed to es­tab­lish that the di­rec­tions con­sti­tuted a ‘plan or pro­gramme’ for set­ting the frame­work for de­vel­op­ment con­sent.

They ar­gued that the stated ob­jec­tives of the di­rec­tions were to en­sure that new de­vel­op­ments along the route of HS2 would not prej­u­dice the build­ing or op­er­a­tion of HS2, or lead to ad­di­tional costs, and that th­ese were there­fore a manda­tory and weighty con­sid­er­a­tion for any lo­cal plan­ning au­thor­ity re­view­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion.

The sec­re­tary of state re­sponded by ar­gu­ing that the di­rec­tions did not set out any sub­stan­tive pol­icy frame­work but were sim­ply a pro­ce­dural mech­a­nism for en­sur­ing at a lo­cal level HS2 was con­sid­ered.

If a plan­ning ap­peal was made against a decision of the lo­cal plan­ning au­thor­ity, the di­rec­tions would no longer be tech­ni­cally rel­e­vant and there­fore could not be held

Jon Mow­bray, a part­ner at IBB Solic­i­tors to set the frame­work for con­sid­er­ing de­vel­op­ments.

The Court of Ap­peal agreed with the Sec­re­tary of State and the High Court and dis­missed the ap­peal.

Whilst this there­fore joins the long list of failed le­gal chal­lenges, it is highly likely that op­po­nents of this con­tro­ver­sial project will pur­sue fur­ther court ac­tion in the fu­ture.

LE­GAL VIEW:

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