Anti-HS2 protestors have been dealt a final blow after the Supreme Court - the highest in the UK - unanimously dismissed their appeals relating to the planning of the new high-speed line.
The court rejected the campaigners’ appeals (brought by the HS2 Action Alliance, Heathrow Hub Ltd and local authorities) to force a further consideration of government proposals for the line.
The Supreme Court hearing ran from October 15-16 2013, and was heard by seven judges. The Court of Appeal had previously ruled in favour of the government on all seven areas of challenge (RAIL 728), but gave the appellants permission to appeal to the Supreme Court on two grounds: that the Government was required to comply with the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive, and had failed to do so; and that the Hybrid Bill would breach the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive.
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said she welcomed the Supreme Court rejection of the appeal, which addressed technical issues that had no bearing on the need for a new north-south railway.
“The Government’s handling of the project has been fully vindicated by the highest court in the land,” she said, vowing that the Government would continue to press ahead with the delivery of HS2.
“The new north-south line will provide extra space for more trains and more passengers to travel on the network, delivering additional capacity where it is most needed. HS2 will also generate thousands of jobs across the UK, and provide opportunities to boost skills.
“It is part of the Government’s long-term economic plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy and secure a better future for Britain. HS2 is also essential in helping rebalance UK growth - bringing greater prosperity to the Midlands and the North - and we are continuing with the crucial business of getting the scheme ready for construction in 2017.”
Centro Chief Executive Geoff Inskip immediately welcomed the announcement, saying the Supreme Court’s rejection of the latest challenges against HS2 was “excellent news for the West Midlands”.
“Our research concludes that high-speed rail will deliver 51,000 jobs and £4.1 billion per year, benefiting people right across the West Midlands,” he said.
“HS2 will bring fast, direct services, but it will also release capacity on our busy and congested existing network for more local, regional and freight services.”
HS2AA spokesman Hilary Wharf vowed to fight on with the support of taxpayers’ money (from local authorities that are part of HS2AA).
“We will continue to press the Government to meet its environmental obligations,” she said. “The Government should be safeguarding our environment for future generations, and the simple fact is HS2 is an unnecessary and hugely damaging project environmentally.”
- This news article was originally published in RAIL 741 on 5 February 2014