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Supreme Court Dismiss HS2 Appeal

HS2

10:07am 22nd January 2014
(Updated 5:49pm 22nd January 2014)

The Supreme Court has disagreed with HS2 campaigners.

HS2 Action Alliance, the Heathrow Hub  and 51m all said the government didn't do a full environmental assesment before deciding where the route should go...therefore the plan should be scrapped and the work done again.

However, this morning Judges at the Supreme Court have ruled unanimously to reject the appeal on all counts.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed both appeals brought before it regarding HS2. All 7 judges agreed with the Court of Appeal and High Court that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive did not apply to HS2.

They also did not consider that changes need to be made to the hybrid Bill process to comply with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive. The Court has decided that in both cases it is not necessary to refer any EU law questions to the Court of Justice of the EU.

Click here to read the full judgement (PDF)

Click here to read a summary of the judgement (PDF)

Chiltern District Council was, along with Aylesbury Vale District Council and Bucks County Council were part of 51m, one of the campaign groups who took the fight to court, they say they have no regrets in being part of this legal challenge, here's their statement:

We do not believe that this decision today endorses a fair and open process for decision making. It merely reflects the Court's lack of desire to interfere with Parliament's business on the understanding that a democratically elected body will respect the wishes and needs of the people.

It is important to bear in mind that the Supreme Court was not concerned with the actual merits of the HS2 project but rather the manner in which the Government was seeking to implement it.  It is clear from the judgement that the judges accept that they had extremely difficult issues to grapple with. We are now actively exploring how we can continue to challenge HS2.

The council is not going to give up the fight. We believe that the Government has not followed the correct procedures and is still looking to take a number of short cuts in relation to the project, to the detriment of its residents. The Government will need to be very careful in how it takes the Hybrid Bill through the Parliamentary process. It has already been forced to extend the consultation period for the Environmental Statement through its failure to comply with Parliamentary Standing Orders. We will continue to closely monitor the process adopted by HS2 to ensure that all those affected are not deprived of their rights and protection under the legislation. 

Cllr Nick Rose, Leader of Chiltern District Council, said:

"We will continue in our resolute opposition to HS2 and will do everything possible to protect our residents against this flawed and discredited project. The way HS2 Ltd and the Government have approached this project smacks of incompetence. They are rushing it through with absolutely no regard for what communities really want."

HS2 Ltd tweeted their response:

Here's a statment from one of the other campaign groups invovled - HS2 Action Alliance:

Unfortunately the Supreme Court didn't agree with the case we put forward that the Government should have undertaken a Strategic Environment Assessment of HS2 before deciding to proceed with the project and sided with the Government.

In reaching this decision, the Supreme Court appears to have ignored the views of the country's leading environmental judge, Lord Justice Sullivan, who ruled in the previous hearing in the Court of Appeal that our case was correct and that the Government should have complied with these important environmental protection measures. 

We've had a relatively short time to review the case with our legal team, but our initial conclusions are that the Court's decision is based on a very restrictive interpretation of the legal points at stake in the case. This interpretation does not appear consistent with European Law or the UK's obligations under the Aarhus Convention, an international agreement designed to protect the environment. 

As a result of this judgement, we are in discussions with our legal team about how best to take these issues into Europe.

Chesham and Amersham MP, Cheryl Gillan, said:

"This is disappointing but I acknowledge this isn't the end. I support the action groups who are working to stop or change HS2 and understand there could be further attempts to pursue the matter."

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