The failure to incorporate aviation strategy into the HS2 route could result in the government having to build a High Speed 3 rail line in the future, one of the judicial review parties has warned.
Heathrow Hub Ltd (HHL) was one of the appellants, arguing that the line should serve Heathrow Airport directly if it was to offer a complete transport solution.
The confusion at HHL has grown since the publication of the phase 2 route, which incorporated a ‘preferred option’ for a Heathrow spur. At the same time, this link was put on hold while Manchester and Birmingham airports were ensured service from the line.
HHL has now called for the high speed rail project to be put on ice until the Davies Commission into the future of aviation in South East England has reported in 2015.
HHL said: “By taking decisions on HS2 in advance of airport policy the commission may also be inhibited in considering alternatives to Heathrow as the UK’s future hub airport.
“Even using the government’s cost and revenue estimates, HS2 is the largest single public investment ever envisaged in any government project, not just transport.
“It would be unfortunate if the commission’s recommendation required an HS3, to provide access to a new hub airport, when a co-ordinated approach would avoid a potentially hugely expensive mistake.”
The reaction echoed that of many of the opposition groups reeling after Mr Justice Ouseley’s judicial review ruling on Friday last week – which rejected nine of the 10 challenges anti-HS2 bodies had put forward.
The sole point the campaigners won was the compensation consultation carried out in 2011 on Phase One of the route.
The judge ruled: “The secretary of state did not provide consultees with sufficient information about how the three options for a discretionary compensation scheme might be applied, or made to work differently in practice, for informed responses to be made as to which one should be taken forward for detailed consultation.
“Although the overall decision to proceed with HS2 is not irrational, the carefully reasoned and substantial HS2AA [one of the appellants] consultation response cannot have been conscientiously considered. All in all, the consultation on compensation was so unfair as to be unlawful.”
The Government swiftly declared it would not appeal, would reconsult, and that the decision would not delay the project.
The HS2 Action Alliance, Heathrow Hub Ltd and the 51m group of councils, which includes Hillingdon, have all confirmed that they will be appealing against the judicial review judgements.