WHEN is a plan a plan? This week the HS2 judicial review has heard from the secretary of state's solicitor about the document setting out the decision to press ahead with HS2.
Tim Mould QC, argued that the document did not constitute a plan, and therefore the Government was not required to have carried out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).
"The decision document is a political document outlining a political case to a political problem to Parliament and the public at large," he said.
"It cannot be argued that the decision document itself has a significant impact on the environment."
He was responding to one of four challengers of the HS2 decision-making process who hope to derail the entire process.
The anti-HS2 campaigning group, 51m, disputed the government's argument that the HS2 document was simply a statement of policy.
Representing the group - an alliance of councils opposed to the project which includes Hillingdon - Nathalie Lieven QC said the document had to constitute a decision because of the language it used and the commitment it made to HS2 as a whole.
Ms Lieven said: "Mr Mould indicated that the decision document is not a 'decision' in quotation marks; it is a policy document.
"I maintain that is a wholly wrong reading of the document.
"It is clearly making a decision to proceed with HS2 as a whole, not just Phase One (London-Birmingham) on its own."
She added: "To say the decision document is a policy directive flies in the face of reality.
"It is a statement of legislative intent, in essence on proceeding with two hybrid bills."
Hybrid bills are used by government to create large public projects which affect a great many private concerns, and if HS2 is to succeed, such a bill would need to go before Parliament.
Ms Lieven also argued that despite what the secretary of state claimed, the decision at the time not to release to 51m the passenger loading data on which it was relying lead to an 'unfair' consultation and the rejection of 51m's optimised alternative.
She went on to say the actions in making the decision were not those of a 'rational secretary of state'.
"There was a decision to proceed with HS2 come what may," she said.
The rational decision argument is one of five which review judge, Mr Justice Ouseley, must consider.
Heathrow Hub has already made its argument; that the route must go directly to the airport without a spur, but its challenge came on the grounds that its response to the consultation was lost, and the decision was fatally flawed because its views were never considered.
HS2 Action Alliance, another of the groups represented, will also use the tactic of a lost response, and play the SEA card too.
The fourth challenger is Aylesbury Golf Club, believed to be preparing a challenge on the basis of the impact the line will have on the course. Its consultation is also believed to have been lost but the golfers have been pretty close mouthed up to now.
These last two were due to make their case this week, and the hearing was expected to end today (Wednesday) with Mr Justice Ouseley delivering his verdict early in the new year.