CAMPAIGNERS against the highspeed rail link have issued the Transport Secretary an ultimatum to scrap her approval of the £16.4b scheme.

Last month Justine Greening gave the green light to 225mph trains running between London and Birmingham. The route will skirt villages in North Oxfordshire including Finmere and Mixbury.

Today, the group 51m – an alliance of 19 local authorities along the route including Cherwell district and Oxfordshire county councils – served a formal letter on Ms Greening calling on her to rescind her decision or potentially face court action. If she refuses, the group may launch a judicial review.

The group said the case put forward by the Department for Transport was poor value for money, and a better alternative would be to spend cash upgrading the capacity of the current West Coast Mainline.

The move comes as Cherwell District Council’s executive pledged to look at the environmental and ecological impact of the project.

At a meeting on Monday, councillors agreed to continue to work jointly with South Northamptonshire District Council to look at the environmental and ecological impact of HS2.

51m chairman Martin Tett, who is also leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said: “We are taking this stance with regret.

“We would far rather that the Government had listened to the people of this country who have decisively rejected this massively expensive project and instead opted for the far better, cheaper and more quickly delivered alternative put forward by 51m.

“We should be investing in our existing rail and road infrastructure across the entire country to bring jobs and growth now when it is needed.”

Last month the Government confirmed it would press ahead with the scheme and also announced a series of changes to the 140-mile route including new tunnels, or extensions to already-planned tunnels, at Greatworth in Northamptonshire, Turweston, near Brackley, Chipping Warden and Aston le Walls in Northamptonshire.

The link, which would cut journey times between London-Birmingham to 49 minutes, would be completed in 2026.

A second phase, taking HS2 to Manchester and Leeds in a Y-shaped route, would be completed in about 2032/33.

The Department for Transport would not comment on the letter. However, it re-stated its belief in the economic benefits of the scheme.