A DATE has been set for a series of legal challenges against the planned high speed rail line that would cut through Oxfordshire.

Five separate legal challenges to the Government’s £33bn HS2 project will be heard in the High Court from December 3.

The week-long series of hearings will look at allegations the Government failed to consult properly and based its approval for the line on inadequate environmental information.

The London-Birmingham link would cut across north-east Oxfordshire near Finmere close to the Buckinghamshire border.

Conservative-controlled Cherwell District Council is among 18 local authorities that form the 51m group to challenge the plans.

Four other challenges are being made by action groups and businesses.

There was anger among campaigners this month when ministers revealed 414 responses had been lost.

Cherwell lead member for planning Michael Gibbard said: “It beggars belief that so many consultation responses were lost, especially as ours was both sent by post and hand delivered to the Department for Transport in London.

“This mistake reinforces the need for the judicial review.”

Martin Tett, 51m chairman, said: “We took the decision to go down the legal route with great reluctance but we still feel the Government left us with no alternative.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “All decisions on HS2 have been taken lawfully and freely and work is continuing as planned. We welcome the fact that a clear timetable has been set.”