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HS2 High Court appeals rejected

Seven grounds of appeal against High Speed 2 have failed in the Court of Appeal, after the government’s major legal victory in March.

The £42.5bn scheme was challenged last year by a group of local authorities, HS2 Action Alliance, Heathrow Hub and Aylesbury Park Golf Club.

They challenged the project a number of grounds, with all but one thrown out of court in March.

The one successful challenge stated that the government’s consultation on compensation proposals was “so unfair to as to be unlawful”, meaning it had to be re-run.

Appeals against the decision to rule against their challenges were brought by the local authorities, the HS2 Action Alliance and Heathrow Hub Ltd, with a hearing commencing on 10 June and lasting four days at the Court of Appeal.

The applicants had been granted permission to appeal on three grounds, and were seeking permission for four further grounds.

The government will now be introducing legislation in Parliament later this year, preparing the scheme to be ready for construction in 2017.

High-speed rail minister Simon Burns said: “By dismissing all seven grounds of appeal and declining to refer the case to Europe, this is the second time in four months a court has rejected attempts to derail HS2.

“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 with the crucial business of getting the scheme ready for construction in 2017 and delivering enormous benefits for the country.”

The government said it would be seeking to reclaim the costs of fighting the appeals after it was ruled that the claimants had to pay costs for the initial challenge.

Phase one is scheduled to open in 2026, with the full Y-shaped route open in 2032/33.

Grounds for Appeal:

  • Claim 1: HS2AA, supported by the other groups, appealed the claim that the appraisal of Sustainability and the Command Paper breached the Strategic Environmental Assessment.
  • Outcome: The court found that the SEA did not apply to HS2, so the government’s environmental approach had been lawful.
  • Claim 2: The local authority group claimed the decision not to re-consult on 51M’s proposed ‘Optimised Alternative’ was unlawful.
  • Outcome: The government, it was ruled, did not have to re-consult.
  • Claim 3: The local authorities claimed the hybrid bill would breach the Environmental Impact Assessment.
  • Outcome: The challenge on whether the hybrid bill process proposed for HS2 was compatible with the EIA was dismissed.
  • Claim 4: The local authorities claimed that the 2011 consultation was unlawful because it failed to provide sufficient information on the routes north of the West Midlands.
  • Outcome: It was ruled that it had been reasonable for the government to consult on phase two separately from the principle of HS2 and the phase one route.
  • Claim 5: The local authorities claimed the Department for Transport had made a mistake of law by not producing an equalities impact assessment.
  • Outcome: It was found that the government had not failed to comply with the public sector equality duty.
  • Claim 6: The local authorities claimed that the decision to locate the London terminus at Euston was irrational, as the DfT had not set out how to address the lack of capacity on the underground to disperse passengers.
  • Outcome: It was ruled that this decision had not been irrational.
  • Claim 7: Heathrow Hub Ltd proposed that the DfT had acted unlawfully by failing to take account of Heathrow Hub’s response to the 2011 consultation.
  • Outcome: The court found that no significant points had been omitted from the secretary of state’s consideration of the response.

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