Posted 15th March 2013 | 12 Comments
High Court rejects nine out of ten complaints against HS2
THE Government’s plans to build a new High Speed Rail network look set to go ahead after a High Court Judicial Review rejected nine out of the ten complaints made against the project.
Transport minister Simon Burns said the court’s decision was “a green light for the scheme to go forward.”
But he said the Department for Transport would re-run public consultation on its compensation plans – the one part of the project that Mr Justice Ouseley ruled to be unlawful.
The HS2 judicial reviews took place at the Royal Courts of Justice from 3-17 December last year. In one of the ten claims against the Government’s handling of the project, objectors argued that the Government’s consultation on discretionary compensation options was unfair.
The judge upheld that challenge, finding that the consultation process was unfair because not enough information was provided to consultees and the criteria by which compensation options were considered were not adequately explained. He also found that the Government had not fully considered HS2 Action Alliance’s detailed consultation response on compensation.
The Department for Transport said: “The Government will consult again on compensation options as soon as possible, but this won’t delay HS2.”
The nine other challenges against the HS2 scheme were all dismissed by the judge.
The Government’s response to the ruling was bullish, calling it “a landmark victory for HS2 in one of the biggest judicial reviews ever faced by a government.”
Rail minister Simon Burns said: “This is a major, landmark victory for HS2 and the future of Britain. The judge has categorically given the green light for the government to press ahead without delay in building a high speed railway from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.”
He went on: “HS2 is the most significant infrastructure investment the UK has seen in modern times and a project the country cannot afford to do without. The judgement ensures that nothing now stands in the way of taking our plans to Parliament.
“We will now move forward as planned with the crucial business of getting the scheme ready for construction in 2017 and delivering enormous benefits for the country.”
“We have listened to the judge’s comments about the property compensation consultation and to save time and public money we will reconsult on this aspect — but this will not delay HS2. We remain fully committed to fairly compensating the public who are impacted by the scheme.”
The next stages for the HS2 project are a consultation on the draft environmental statement in the spring and the deposit of a hybrid bill by the end of the year.
• A summary of the objectors’ challenges and the judge’s findings can be seen at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/142297/hs2-judicial-review-the-challenges-explained.pdf
Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.