HS2 campaigners defiant despite Court of Appeal defeat

15 councils among objectors who asked judges to order further assessment of whole scheme

Objectors remained defiant today after the Court of Appeal rejected their latest challenges to Government plans to go ahead with the HS2 national high-speed rail project.

Fifteen councils and many other objectors, including residents' associations along the route, had asked the appeal judges to order further assessment of the scheme as a whole.

All grounds of challenge were dismissed, but anti-HS2 campaigners drew comfort from a split in the three-judge court on the key question of whether a full strategic environmental assessment (SEA) should have been carried out to assess the impact of both HS2 and its alternatives.

Two of the judges - Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, and Lord Justice Richards - supported the Department of Transport's contention that an SEA under a European Directive was not required.

But Lord Justice Sullivan disagreed and added the warning: "If, as I have concluded, an SEA is required and there has not been substantial compliance with the SEA Directive, it would be difficult to think of a more egregious breach of the Directive given the scale of the HS2 project and the likely extent of its effects on the environment."

Because of its public importance, the appeal court gave the objectors permission to bring a further appeal on the SEA issue before the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

They also gave permission for a further appeal over a second EU Directive - the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (EIAD).

Buckinghamshire County Council and other local authorities unsuccessfully contended that the parliamentary hybrid Bill procedure being used by the Transport Secretary to seek development consent for the two phases of HS2 was not capable of achieving the objectives of the EIAD - particularly ensuring full public participation in the decision-making procedures.

David Elvin QC argued on behalf of the objectors: "The level of parliamentary scrutiny in a proposed hybrid Bill would not meet the standard of scrutiny required by European law, given the all-party support for HS2 and the fact there would be a whipped vote".

Hilary Wharf, director of HS2AA, welcomed the court's decision to allow the Supreme Court to give a final decision on the scheme.

She said: "It's a positive move and we are confident that, at the end of the day, the Government are going to have to do a strategic environmental assessment and take their environmental obligations seriously."

But 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."

Objectors say it will cost far too much to get HS2, as currently envisaged, up and running from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. They estimate £58 billion and rising.

The official all-contingency cost of the project has recently climbed from £33 billion to £42.6 billion.

Former Labour Cabinet minister Lord Mandelson, ex-chancellor and former transport secretary Alistair Darling, and ITV chairman and former Tory MP Archie Norman have all cast doubt on the scheme in recent weeks.

But yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron reiterated HS2's importance, saying it was essential if Britain was to be a winner in the global race.

The project is being seen as the country's largest infrastructure project for a generation and the largest single rail project since the 19th century.

The objectors say it will cause an unacceptable level of environmental damage, loss of homes and disruption to many communities - without the public having had a fair hearing and a chance to suggest reasonable, cheaper alternatives.

The court heard that Phase One of HS2 involves creating a high-speed link between London and Birmingham, allowing through trains to run on to the West Coast main line to service cities further north.

Proposals include a new interchange station at Old Oak Common in west London, with a connection to Crossrail, the Heathrow Express, Great Western main line and local public transport, and a direct link to the Channel Tunnel.

Phase Two proposes to extend the project from the West Midlands further north to Manchester on the western fork and to Leeds on the eastern fork.

Today's appeal was against a High Court ruling which dismissed eight of the original nine areas of legal challenge.

Only one succeeded in the High Court and concerned the way in which the property compensation consultation for HS2 was carried out. The consultation is now being re-run.

HS2AA has raised £100,000 to challenge the SEA decision.

Among the 15 local authorities involved in the appeal is Camden Council in London, which says it represents the most affected area along the entire HS2 route and fears a "decade of blight".

It has issued a stark warning that the Government needs to go back to the drawing board in order to properly understand and respond to the impact of high-speed rail on local people, businesses and commuters.

Martin Tett, chairman of the 51m alliance and leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, said after today's ruling: "Yes, we are disappointed with the result.

"On four grounds brought to the Court of Appeal by the local authorities, the appeal judges found against us on the technicality that in theory Parliament is not bound by any decision of the Government and could chose to reject or amend the project.

"Most significantly, there was a split decision by the three judges on the first ground that a full strategic environmental assessment (SEA) should have been carried out to assess the effect on the environment of both HS2 and its alternatives.

"Lord Justice Sullivan gives a very strong steer that HS2 Ltd has failed both in its obligation to fully assess the environmental implications of the project and, vitally, to assess these against the alternative we have put forward.

"His comments in his judgment are damning of the Department for Transport's approach.

"This is another example of the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd riding roughshod over public opinion, ploughing ahead regardless of what local communities want and ignoring the environmental merits of the alternatives.

"We have evidence that our alternative to HS2 would provide all of the capacity required, far more quickly, at a fraction of the cost and would be less damaging to the environment."

PA

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web Developer (Infrastructure, JavaScript, jQuery, jQuery UI)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Web Developer (Infrastructure, JavaScript, jQuer...

DT Technician

£65 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: DT Technician required to start...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: One of SThree's most successfu...

Nursery Manager

£10 - £11 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: Nursery Manager We are loo...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor