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HS2 loses court case

New Years Green Landfill site

This is from Sarah Green

Households in Hillingdon enjoy good quality water which comes from the chalk aquifer below the Colne Valley. Construction works of HS2 are putting this water supply at risk.

Since 2018 I have been requesting the water risk assessments which should have looked at all the known hazards, quantified the risks being taken and then set out options for mitigating the risks. HS2 have systematically refused to provide the reports and also systematically I have appealed and complained against their stance.

I won my case.

On 20 April 2021 the First-tier tribunal released a Substitute Decision Notice ruling that HS2 wrongly withheld the information in January 2019. They did not deal correctly with my environmental information request in accordance with the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). In addition HS2 must make available unredacted versions of 3 key water risk assessments for their work in the Colne Valley, by 21 May 2021.

The three documents are:

Options for mitigation of the effects of piling on groundwater

Groundwater Assessment for Construction Tasks – Piling at the Colne Valley Viaduct

Groundwater Assessment for Construction Tasks – Tunnel and Cross Passages

The Judgement found that HS2 actions were against Environmental Information Regulations which are intended to increase public access to environmental information, contribute to more effective participation by the public in environmental decision-making and, eventually, to a better environment. HS2 have been inhibiting this process with the potential of leading to worse environmental outcomes. You can read the full Decision Notice here.

At paragraph 23 of the Decision, the judges state that they have no reason to doubt the expertise or good faith of a water quality expert who gave evidence at the hearing.

None of the water risk assessments include the pollution from the landfill site which is already in the eastern side of the aquifer. New Years Green Landfill Site was determined Contaminated Land and designated a Special Site in 2011. In 1997 pollution problems were identified in the Newyears green bourne river and in the chalk aquifer. The Ickenham public water supply, 500 m to the south east of the landfill and out of the range of this picture to the right, was closed and remains closed but remains licensed. The NYGB river is a Significant Pollution Pathway, it runs downstream from the Landfill site, alongside the Load Test Pile Site and empties into the Hillingdon Outdoor Activity Centre Lake (HOAC). The LTP site (area of concern) is 400 m south west of the Landfill site.

Hillingdon Green party now call on Hillingdon Council to require HS2 to produce water risk assessments which include the major hazard of the Contaminated Land and the underground pollution plume which has already been detected at the southern end of the proposed HS2 Colne Valley Viaduct. It is necessary to include this potential risk in the water risk assessments for the piling and for the viaduct before plans can be approved.

The current situation as of April 2021, is that London Borough of Hillingdon Council have not granted (planning) consent for the Colne Valley Viaduct 74320/APP/2019/3187 and River Diversions 76182/APP/2021/399. Further details of our views on these are here. We support the Council in withholding this consent until they are satisfied that these activities will not do lasting damage in the Drinking Water Protected Areas (DWPAs) or spread pollution further into the aquifer from the Council owned site of Contamination at Newyears Green.

Please continue to support our fight to protect local drinking water by signing and sharing the petition here.