High Court rules HS2 consultation was unlawful

15 March 2013

Posted by Samuel Couratin

The High Court has ruled that part of the government's consultation process for the HS2 high-speed rail line was unlawful.

Five legal cases had been presented against the government by four protest groups, including local councils and a golf club, that are among more than 70 organisations opposed to the project.

Mr Justice Ouseley ruled in favour of the protestors regarding the consultation into compensation of householders living along the proposed route, saying "the consultation on compensation was so unfair as to be unlawful".

However, he supported the government on the remaining nine points that were challenged, which included claims that the HS2 project breached European environment and habitat rules.

Simon Burns, the Rail Minister, told the BBC the ruling is a "major landmark victory" for the scheme, despite the failures in the consultation process. He said that HS2 now has the "green light to move forward" subject to parliamentary approval.

Mr Burns confirmed the government will not appeal against the compensation ruling and will hold another consultation process to address the points raised by the court. He stressed this "will not affect the HS2 construction timetable in any way".

The first phase of the £33 billion project, which will link London and Birmingham, aims to be operational by 2025. It will then be extended to Manchester and Leeds, with work expected to be complete some point between 2032 and 2033.

The Chief Executive of Leeds City Council has urged businesses in the cities that will be affected by HS2 not to oppose the scheme and to prepare for the “;massive” economic benefits high-speed rail could bring, the Yorkshire Post reports.

Speaking at an international property conference in Cannes, which was also attended by leading figures from Nottingham, Birmingham and Manchester city councils, Tim Riordan said the relationship between cities has changed, moving away from the traditional north-south divide.

“;We’ve got to stop obsessing about London and the south-east. London is the driver of the UK economy - but we in Yorkshire keep the lights on in London through assets like Drax power station. All cities benefit by their proximity to London, shortening that distance will benefit the UK economy as a whole,” he commented.

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