Highest court throws out legal challenge to High Speed Two

Marion Dakers
CAMPAIGNERS against High Speed Two have lost their final legal appeal in the UK after two years of fighting the rail project in the courts – though one group pledged to appeal to the European authorities.

Transport minister Baroness Kramer said the unanimous decision in the Supreme Court yesterday “fully vindicated” the government’s work on HS2.

The court dismissed arguments that the government should have issued a strategic environmental assessment before planning the precise details of the route.

“I have not found this an easy case,” said Lady Hale, one of the seven judges who heard the appeal. “Whatever the economic and social benefits [HS2] may bring, it will undoubtedly have a major impact upon the environment.”

HS2 Action Alliance, which works with 90 pressure groups and residents’ associations to oppose the railway, said it will complain to the European Commission as well as the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee, the body that polices public involvement in green issues.

“The government should be safeguarding our environment for future generations and the simple fact is HS2 is an unnecessary and hugely damaging project environmentally,” said HS2AA director Hilary Wharf.

The government said it will “press on” with passing a hybrid bill to allow construction to begin.

The £42.6bn railway will cut journey times between London and Birmingham, before linking to Leeds and Manchester once the route is fully open in 2033.