Opponents to HS2, including residents’ groups and 15 local councils challenged the London-Birmingham section of the new line on seven different grounds, all of which were dismissed by the Court of Appeal.
The residents’ groups and local councils claimed that the Government was required to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and that they had not carried out a full and proper consultation before pursuing with the plans. By a majority of 2-1, the Court held that the Government had complied with the law and had acted reasonably and rationally throughout the process.
The dissenting judgment came from Lord Justice Sullivan, who agreed with the Master of the Rolls and Lord Justice Richards on all grounds, with the exception of Ground 1 and believed the Government must carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). He believed that a key question on the SEA Directive ought to be determined by the Court of Justice of the European Union before the UK courts could give a final judgment.
The project, currently expected to cost £42.6bn, is intended to allow trains to run at 250 mph (400km/h) from London to Birmingham from 2026, with branches to Manchester and Leeds (via Sheffield) planned by 2032.
The objectors, who claim the scheme would cause an unacceptable level of environmental damage, loss of homes and disruption to communities, have confirmed that they will appeal to the Supreme Court.
The High Speed Rail minister, Simon Burns, has hailed the judgment a success for the Government and has pledged to introduce a bill for Phase One of the development before the end of the year.
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