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HS2: opponents to high-speed rail link defeated in Supreme Court



A legal bid to put the controversial HS2 high-speed rail plans under further scrutiny in government has been rejected by the Supreme Court.

Objectors to the plans say that the government’s transport department had breached an EU directive, failing to properly carry out environmental impact assessments.

Advocates for the HS2 Action Alliance applied to the court for a declaration that the government had breached this, but the challenge was unanimously rejected by a panel of seven judges in the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The £50 billion project aims to provide a high-speed rail link between the north and south, with routes from London to Birmingham planned for 2026, and Manchester to Leeds via Sheffield by 2032. The campaigners from the HS2 Action Alliance say that the development will have a detrimental impact on the environment and communities, including some losing their homes.

The plans were backed by the cross-party transport committee in December, when the group of MPs said that the potential gains of the high speed link “significantly outweigh” any risks to the environment.

The Woodland Trust however, said that the plans showed a “shocking disregard” for England’s woodland and wildlife, and claimed that all breeding populations of barn owls on the route would be lost.

Critics also complained that they were only given eight weeks to respond to a 46,000 page consultation document issued on the proposals by the government back in November. The consultation window will close on Friday.

Further reading:

HS2 shows ‘shocking disregard’ for nature, says Woodland Trust

UK must press on with HS2 rail network, MPs urge

HS2 hybrid bill sheds light on the rail network’s environmental impact

MPs set to vote on HS2 spending plans

Ditching HS2 would be ‘disaster’ for British industry