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Update on HS2 must prove that their 'Euston Approaches' design is not dangerous

Dear Supporters, 

Among documents now submitted to the Court by HS2 Ltd there is still nothing indicating that there has been a proper assessment of the part of the design where the tunnels pass below the unstable Park Village East retaining wall.

Additionally, the submissions from HS2 Ltd and a witness statement from the second Defendant, the Department of Transport, show that there is a fundamental disagreement between them, with the DfT repeating the criticisms of the Three Tunnels Design expressed in the Oakervee Review (for the latter, please see below, my update of 13 February).  

I must apologise for the delay in providing this new update. My side received documents from the Defendants as expected on 28 February. But we were taken aback by the contrast between the positions of HS2 Ltd and the DfT. Another problem was that the range of evidence submitted by HS2 Ltd was much more restricted than we had hoped. Furthermore, their whole bundle had been poorly scanned, making the drawings in particular difficult to read.  

We sent our response documents to the Court on 3 April. Three days earlier, on 31 March, we had also submitted to the Court an ‘Application for Specific Disclosure’, along with a list of the documents we were still asking HS2 Ltd to provide and, to this end, a request for a short additional hearing in front of Mrs Justice Lang.

My solicitor, Jayesh Kunwardia, was able to add to this application a further request, that Mrs Justice Lang compel both Defendants to clarify their position concerning the Three Tunnels Design, in particular in relation to the Oakervee Review.

We understand that the Defendants have now agreed to an additional hearing and in theory this could take place quite soon (though because of the coronavirus emergency it would probably have to be via Skype or similar). However, it may be that Mrs Justice Lang will require the two Defendants to make clear their position in writing beforehand. It is not impossible that HS2 Ltd, which, after all, is wholly owned by the Department for Transport, as a result will be forced to admit that it cannot safely build the Three Tunnels Design, thus effectively resolving my claim. 

Whether or not the additional hearing goes ahead, it now seems to me unlikely that it will be necessary to continue on to the full Judicial Review hearing scheduled for 13-14 May.

A Press Release issued by my solicitors last Thursday can be found here:  

The Press Release also raises a more immediate issue, that parking suspension notices in the neighbourhood indicate that HS2 Ltd wants its Main Works contractor, Skanska Costain Strabag JV, to resume work as soon as 20 April. Among the ‘early work’ (i.e. pre-construction work) planned is the insertion under the Park Village East houses of two banks of closely-spaced ground anchors. The purpose of the ground anchors would be to help stabilise the retaining wall, even though, as HS2 Ltd admitted to the House of Lords Select Committee in 2016, they themselves will cause a degree of settlement damage to the Grade II* listed houses. In any case, as Colin Elliff in his updated expert report has again explained, if tunnelling under the retaining wall was ever carried out, as in the Three Tunnels Design, the ground anchors could not stop the wall collapsing downwards into the tunnel, indirectly causing much more serious damage to the houses as well as to the existing railway.

Thanking you again for your moral and financial support, and wishing you the best of health, Hero, telphone 07952 216602       

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