Update From The High Court

Yesterday HS2AA and Hillingdon Council brought their judicial review to the High Court. The challenge concerned the decision of the Government to issue Safeguarding Directions to protect land from developments that might conflict with HS2 without first undertaking a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

David Elvin, QC from Landmark Chambers opened for HS2AA and Hillingdon and argued that the Safeguarding Directions are a “plan or programme that sets the framework” for other planning applications, and therefore an SEA should have been conducted before proceeding with safeguarding the land for HS2. By not doing an SEA, no alternatives to the safeguarded land were examined to see if other options had lesser environmental impacts. He drew attention to extensive evidence from across West London and Birmingham to highlight the negative impacts of this decision.

Tim Mould QC for the Secretary of State for Transport argued that the Safeguarding Directions were purely procedural. Their purpose, he said, was to ensure that there was an oversight mechanism for central government, and it was the project of HS2 (and not the Safeguarding Directions) that was the material consideration in constraining the Secretary of State in how he acted, and whether to grant planning permission for an application that conflicted with HS2.

David Elvin QC, in responding to the Government’s arguments, said that it was impossible to  divorce the Safeguarding Directions from their purpose, which was about protecting the building, operations and cost of the project (HS2). He pointed to the maps that were part of the directions and noted that the land that was now safeguarded from alternative uses.

 Judgment was reserved and no date was given for when the court’s decision would be published.

HS2AA would like to thank the work of our legal team and the thousands of people across the country who contributed the funds necessary to bring the case.

You can read a copy of our press release by clicking here  

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