Statement from Hillingdon Council on The Colne Valley Viaduct
Friday 19 March: The council and HS2 have reached agreement that has removed the need for the council to continue with its Judicial Review in relation to the Colne Valley Viaduct.
HS2 Ltd made an application to the council for planning approval in relation to the design and external appearance of the Colne Valley Viaduct under the HS2 Act.
The council did not determine the application on the basis that HS2 Ltd had failed to provide it with sufficient information in order for it to make a lawful decision. HS2 Ltd issued an appeal to the Secretaries of State for Transport and Housing, Communities and Local Government who appointed a Planning Inspector to determine the appeal on their behalf. The Inspector found in favour of HS2 Ltd and allowed its appeal.
The council brought judicial review proceedings against the Secretaries of State and HS2 Ltd in the High Court in December 2020, challenging the legality of the Inspector's decision. The viaduct has very significant ecological and environmental implications for the borough and its residents and the council was concerned that planning approval had been given in the absence of important information which would adequately protects these interests.
Discussions have recently taken place between the council's and HS2 Ltd's leadership in relation to the HS2 project as a whole and they have included the viaduct where the council has reiterated its concerns about the lack of information provided by HS2 Ltd in relation to ground water quality, the ecological impacts arising from the viaduct and the anti-graffiti measures that are to be included in its design.
The council has also, as part of these discussions, asked for a public commitment from HS2 Ltd to work collaboratively with it in terms of securing a positive long term legacy for the borough and its residents which is to include robust mitigations plans being put in place.
HS2 Ltd has written to the council, providing assurances that it will share with it the information which it has asked for. This includes details of ground water quality and also working with the council on providing public statements on water impacts, sharing ecological reports with the council and developing a public summary on ecological mitigations and finally, providing the necessary details on anti-graffiti measures to the council.
The council regrets that HS2 Ltd did not provide this information to the council at the time of submitting its application for planning approval as it would have obviated the need for the council to have resorted to legal action at public cost. Nevertheless, the council has, in the light of HS2 Ltd's written assurances, decided not to pursue its judicial review claim. Although the design of the viaduct remains far from ideal, the council's position is that these proceedings have resulted in HS2 Ltd providing it with the information which it asked for at the very outset.
In conclusion, the council is prepared to work collaboratively with HS2 Ltd and secure a long term legacy but this will not, for the avoidance of doubt, be at the expense of the interests of the borough and its residents. The council will continue to challenge HS2 Ltd whenever it considers it necessary to protect these interests.