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Supreme Court rejects appeal against HS2
10:53am Wednesday 22nd January 2014 in News
THE Supreme Court has dismissed the latest appeal against the controversial HS2 rail project.
Judges unanimously voted in favour of the government after campaigners tried to force further scrutiny of the plans.
The appeal centred over the question of whether a Strategic Environmental Assessment should have been carried out.
It concerned phase one of the scheme, which would see a high speed rail line run from London to Birmingham, cleaving through the Chilterns AONB in the process.
The Court found that the decision to press ahead with the HS2 project had not contravened European law Responding to the ruling Transport Minister, Baroness Kramer, said: "We welcome that the Supreme Court has unanimously rejected the appeal, which addressed technical issues that had no bearing on the need for a new north-south railway.
"The government’s handling of the project has been fully vindicated by the highest court in the land. We will now continue to press ahead with the delivery of HS2."
The case was brought to the court by the 51M group as well as the HS2 Action Alliance and the Heathrow Hub, and was heard in October last year.
A statement from Chiltern District Council today said the authority had no regrets in being part of the legal challenge, and pledged to continue the fight along with other members of the 51M group.
It said: “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.”
Cllr Nick Rose, leader of CDC, 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."
Campaign groups have also been quick to voice their dissatisfaction with the decision today.
Hilary Wharf, director of HS2 Action Alliance, said: “We always knew this would be a long fight. A number of the judges, led by Lady Hale, thought long and hard about whether the issues HS2AA raised should be referred to the European Court of Justice. This and the fact that we were given right to appeal to the highest court in the land shows how seriously the need for an SEA (Strategic Environmental Assessment) should be taken.”
“We will continue to press the Government to meet its environmental obligations. The Government should be safeguarding our environment for future generations and the simple fact is HS2 is an unnecessary and hugely damaging project environmentally.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said: "We are disappointed with this decision. It’s clear from the judgement that the judges are expecting Members of Parliament to look carefully at the HS2 Hybrid Bill, and not simply follow the party whip. But the Government has shown that it is eager to rush this legislation through, in the hope that no-one spots the problems with it.”
Joe Rukin, Campaign Manager for Stop HS2 added: “This leaves the Strategic Environmental Assessment legislation in tatters. This ruling gives a green light for government to side step legislation intended to preserve heritage, culture and the environment.”
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