A COUNCIL chief says he feels “quietly confident” of success in the Judicial Review into the proposed £32bn High Speed 2 plan.
Councillor Martin Tett, Buckinghamshire County Council leader and chairman of the 51m, said he was “feeling good” about the case after the “telling points” put forward by the group’s QC Nathalie Lieven.
Fifteen local authorities, the Heathrow Hub group and Aylesbury Golf Club are presenting their case against the plan to Mr Justice Ouseley.
Cllr Tett told the Bucks Free Press on the front steps of the High Court yesterday: “The QC has put forward some very good points, it’s always difficult to know how a judge will react but I’m quietly confident.
“It was heaving here on Monday. There was a real sense of anticipation and excitement, this has been the culmination of two years worth of anxiety and there’s a real determination to fight this all the way.
“This is their chance to make their point and have their say via the QC.
“I’m really pleased, as we’ve had great support from residents, I went back to Aylesbury on Monday and walked into a packed room and the response was amazing.
“Virtually everyone wanted to know how we got on; I hardly meet anyone that doesn’t agree with what we’re doing, it’s amazing the amount of support you get from people, I think is laudable.”
It emerged on Monday that rail passenger load figures, kept confidential until last week, showed peak time trains from London’s Euston station were at just 52.2 per cent capacity in standard carriages in 2011.
Train overcrowding has been one of the key reasons given by the government for pursuing the HS2 plan.
Yesterday, day two of the seven day hearing, Ms Lieven said the general public had not been properly consulted about the proposals.
And the time saved by travelling on HS2 would be eroded by the 20-30 minute delays commuters would face in London due to the increased passenger numbers, the inadequate facilities at Euston and subsequent strains this would place on the underground network.
She said: “You wouldn’t dream of a new runway at Stansted Airport unless people could get out onto the motorways, same for Heathrow.
“So it’s not rational for the Secretary of State to say ‘I know it doesn’t work, but we’ll build HS2 and worry about the problems later’.”
Ms Lieven also attacked the plans to link HS2 with HS1 and proposals for a separate line to travel to Heathrow, as there was no demand for it.
Cllr Tett attacked the “hypocrisy” the government had shown – pointing to the reasons ministers had given them in dismissing an alternative route and the delays commuters would face when they arrived in the capital.
He said: “If you look at their [HS2] own passenger forecasts, the amount of passengers coming to Euston Station is such that the station couldn’t cope and more importantly the underground services couldn’t cope, adding about 20-30 minutes to journey times.
“The complete hypocrisy here is to say the benefit of High Speed 2 is that you arrive or leave London quicker, but on their own admission it’s going to take 20 minutes to clear the station and that will virtually wipe out the benefits of it.
“The junction between HS1 and HS2, which has clearly been put in for political reasons as it looks good on paper, is clearly irrational, the business case is very poor, and it will affect commuter services – which is the same reason they ruled out our optimised alternative.
“It’s hypocrisy ruling out an alternative with a better benefit-cost ratio (BSM) that does what HS2 would do but better and easier, and then going for a link between HS1 and HS2 that would interfere with commuter services with a poorer BCM.”
Protesters from Amersham and Speen were in the High Court on Tuesday. Chiltern District Cllr Nigel Shepherd said: “I’m very impressed with the arguments put forward and we’re very hopeful.
“There’s no organisation, it’s a standalone project that the government thinks is a good idea, the Prime Minister thinks it’s a good idea, and they’re just doing their lord and master’s bidding.
“It’s a monumental waste of public money.”
The hearing continues today – the review is scheduled to last seven days.