A Buckinghamshire Council application for judicial review challenging a decision by the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Levels, Housing and Communities to approve lorry routes for the construction of High Speed 2 has been dismissed by the High Court.
The local authority launched judicial review proceedings in November 2021 challenging the decision to allow appeals by HS2 Limited (HS2L) to use the truck routes initially refused by the council.
The limited company behind the railway has made eight applications to Buckinghamshire Council for approval of arrangements for eight routes for large commercial vehicles (LGVs) to and from construction sites for the HS2 project. The board did not determine seven of the claims because it said the information needed to determine them had not been provided by HS2L.
HS2L appealed the non-determination to the Secretaries of State of the seven sites generating three appeals.
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The Secretaries of State, through the Planning Inspectors, granted the appeals. Buckinghamshire then filed an application for judicial review challenging the three appeal decisions by the Secretaries of State.
There were three common grounds for challenge regarding separate planning decisions. The first concerned the information that had to be provided to the local authority for the application for approval to be valid, and how a dispute over the necessity of the information requested affects the rights of appeal to the Secretaries of State. This raises a jurisdictional issue, counsel argued.
The second common ground of challenge raised questions as to the interpretation of paragraph 6 of Schedule 17 of the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Act 2017 and what scope it gives to local authority to seek to modify the routes proposed by the conditions.
Schedule 17, paragraph 1, provides that the requirements of paragraphs 2 to 12 are “conditions of the town planning permit” and paragraph 6 contains the “Condition relating to road transport”.
The council claimed that the decisions on appeals took too narrow a view of paragraph 6.
Buckinghamshire also claimed an important aspect of the cumulative impact had been overlooked.
In Buckinghamshire Council v Secretary of State for Transport Secretary of State for Levelling, Housing and Communities  EWHC 1923 Ouseley J. dismissed all three grounds of challenge and the application for judicial review failed.
The council said it did not plan to appeal the decision.
Cllr Steven Broadbent, a member of the Buckinghamshire transport cabinet, said: “We are bitterly disappointed with the outcome, but the decision to go ahead and take these appeals to the High Court has always been the right thing to do. for our residents and our communities.Following strong advice, we believe that we had solid and very valid reasons to challenge the decisions of the inspectors in allowing the use of the truck routes, which will have a huge and detrimental impact on our local roads.
He added: “We and other local authorities are already limited in our overall influence and control over much of the HS2 program and last week’s High Court ruling places an additional financial burden on us to provide further more evidence when we challenge everything HS2 is doing in our It’s so unfair when our residents are already covering the cost of a massive infrastructure project whose construction is disrupting a large swath of Buckinghamshire.