HS2: Supreme Court rejects legal challenge by opponents of high-speed rail line

The seven Supreme Court Justices voted unanimously against the claims
  • @kashmiragander

The Supreme Court rejected on Tuesday a legal challenge to the Government’s plan to push through the HS2 rail link.

Groups including the the HS2 Action Alliance, Heathrow Hub campaigners, and local councils where the proposed route crosses, put forward claims that the project's decision-making process was unlawful.

The court ruled against two accusations that the Government was “cutting corners” to introduce the project and was in breach of two European environmental directives for assessing the project's environmental impact.

The seven Supreme Court justices ruled unanimously against the challenge, and said: “There is no reason to suppose that MPs will be unable properly to examine and debate the proposed project.”


There is also no justification for referring the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the judges ruled.

David Elvin QC, representing HS2AA, told the court at a hearing in October that the case concerned “the most important strategic rail decision this country has taken at least for a generation”.

He said that the Government had so far failed to consult as widely as it had promised and to consider properly alternatives to HS2, and failed to convince judges to overturn an appeal court majority upholding the scheme.

While the claims cannot be appealed in Europe, there may be future challenges on the second phase of the scheme, which extends beyond Birmingham, when the exact route is announced.


Transport Minister Baroness Kramer said of the verdict: “We welcome that the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected 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.

“We will now continue to press ahead with the delivery of HS2.

”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.“

After the announcement Emma Crane, campaign director of the HS2 Alliance, said: ”We are very disappointed, but it is absolutely not the end of the road. We believe this is a wrong decision.“

The £50bn project will potentially see trains run at 250 mph (400km/h) from London to Birmingham from 2026, and is planned to branch to Manchester and Leeds by 2032.

Additional reporting by PA