Work on a new high speed railway from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds will continue after the Court of Appeal today (24 July 2013) rejected further attempts to derail the scheme. The court has given the government the green light to press ahead without delay in delivering the engine for growth. Of the 7 broad areas of challenge to the decisions on the principle of HS2 and route for phase one (from London to Birmingham), made by 3 sets of claimants, the Court of Appeal ruled categorically in the government’s favour on every one. The government will be moving forward as planned with introducing legislation in Parliament later this year and getting the scheme ready for construction in 2017.
High Speed Rail Minister Simon Burns said: “By dismissing all 7 grounds of appeal and declining to refer the case to Europe, this is the second time in 4 months a court has rejected attempts to derail HS2.
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“Parliament is the right place to debate the merits of HS2, not the law courts, and we will introduce the hybrid bill for phase one before the year is out. I urge opponents not to waste any more taxpayers’ money on expensive litigation and instead work with us on making HS2 the very best it can be.
“We continue to move forward apace with the crucial business of getting the scheme ready for construction in 2017 and delivering enormous benefits for the country.”
The Court of Appeal agreed it was lawful for the government to choose to rule out upgrading the existing network as a credible alternative to HS2. It also agreed with the High Court that the government’s approach to consultation on the principle of HS2 and the phase one route, and on environmental and equalities assessments, had all been carried out fairly and lawfully.
Earlier in the year the High Court ordered the claimants to pay the government’s legal costs for defending the unsuccessful grounds of challenge. The government will be seeking to reclaim costs for having to fight these appeals.
Phase one of the scheme is set to open in 2026, with the full Y-shaped route open in 2032 to 2033.
The appeal hearings took place at the Royal Courts of Justice from 10 to 13 June.
Of the 7 broad areas of challenge made against HS2, the court ruled in the government’s favour on all of the these. Three of the appeals were dismissed (see No 1 to 3 below) while the court refused the appellants permission to appeal on the other 4. The court:
- • supported the High Court ruling that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive did not apply to HS2 and so found that the government’s approach to assessing the environmental impacts of HS2 had been lawful
- • agreed with the High Court ruling, finding that the government did not have to re-consult on 51M’s optimised alternative
- • dismissed challenges about whether the hybrid bill process proposed for HS2 was compatible with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive
- • agreed with High Court ruling, finding that it had been reasonable for the government to consult on phase two route separately from the principle of HS2 and the phase one route
- • found that the government had not failed to comply with the public sector equality duty
- • agreed with the High Court ruling, finding that it had not been irrational of the Secretary of State for Transport to decide to have the London terminus at Euston
agreed with High Court ruling, finding that no significant points had been omitted from the Secretary of State for Transport’s consideration of Heathrow Hub Ltd’s proposal