HS2 challenge dismissed by Supreme Court

Three groups, who took their opposition to HS2 as far as the Supreme Court, have all lost their cases.

HS2 Action Alliance Ltd, Heathrow Hub Ltd and Hillingdon London Borough Council appeared before a panel of seven judges between October 15-16, 2013.

The opposition groups had requested a judicial review of the Government’s decision to promote HS2 which had been published as ‘High Speed Rail: Investing in Britain’s Future – Decisions and Next Steps’ on January 10, 2012.

This ‘DNS’ document included confirmation of the Government’s high-speed strategy and a summary of its decisions, and set out the process by which the Government intended to obtain development consent for HS2 through two hybrid bills in Parliament.

The three organisations commenced judicial review proceedings in April 2012. Their claim was upheld in relation to certain aspects of the consultation process but dismissed by the Court of Appeal on other issues in July 2013.

An appeal was made to the Supreme Court on whether the DNS should have been preceded by a strategic environmental assessment (SEA), and secondly, whether the hybrid bill procedure will comply with the procedural requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment directive (EIA).

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal.

HS2 responded with the following statement: “The Standing Order Committees of both Houses of Parliament have now both ruled in favour of the hybrid Bill’s progression and confirmed that it can proceed as planned with a short extension to the Environmental Statement consultation, with the deadline now 11.59pm on Thursday, February 27, 2014, and we are happy to comply.

“We saw today (January 22) the Supreme Court unanimously rejecting technical challenges which had no bearing on the need for a new north-south railway. We remain on track to get the scheme ready for construction in 2017. HS2 is essential in helping re-balance UK growth – bringing greater prosperity to the Midlands and the north and delivering essential additional capacity for more trains and passengers across the network.”

Report by Nigel Wordsworth, edited by Marc Johnson