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The Department for Transport is facing the prospect of defending itself in several court cases over plans to build a high-speed rail link between London and the north, as opponents rush to meet this week’s deadline for filing judicial review requests.
A group campaigning against the train line, known as High Speed 2 (HS2), is putting forward two cases this week, seeking permission from a judge for a court hearing on each.
In one, HS2 Action Alliance argues the Department for Transport’s environmental assessment was inadequate, while in the other it says information provided to the public about compensation plans was insufficient and difficult to access.
The group’s environmental concerns are expected to be wrapped into another judicial-review request from a group of local authorities led by an organisation called 51m. They make the case that the government’s consultation over the route was inadequate and failed to address concerns about the ability of Euston Station to cope with increased volumes, as well as raising environmental concerns.
HS2 AA’s case over compensation is likely to remain separate, which would leave the government defending itself on at least two fronts.
Hilary Wharf, the group’s director, said the approximately £200,000 raised to pursue the judicial reviews showed the strength of feeling over the proposals. “It demonstrates that people are just appalled at the waste of money” on a train line expected to cost £32.7bn, she said on Monday.
The organisation sent a letter to European regulators last week, asking them to look into alleged flaws in the environmental assessment if the concerns were not addressed in UK courts.
The government is hoping to begin work on the line, the first phase of which would shave 39 minutes off the journey between London and Birmingham, in 2017.
Justine Greening, transport secretary, gave the project a green light in early January, opening a three-month window in which groups and individuals had the chance to file requests for judicial reviews. That period closes at the end of this week.