A TOP judge slammed the government's failure to carry out a review of the environmental impact caused by HS2 as egregious.

Although a Court of Appeal judgement found in favour of the government over a failure to properly review the project's environmental, the decision was a two to one split among the three judges.

Lord Justice Sullivan ruled in campaigners' favour but Lord Justice Richards and Lord Chief Justice Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, dismissed their appeal.

Lord Justice Sullivan said a full Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) should have been carried out by HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport.

In his judgement he said: "If, as I have concluded, an SEA is required and there has not been substantial compliance with the SEA Directive, it would be difficult to think of a more egregious breach of the Directive given the scale of the HS2 project and the likely extent of its effects on the environment."

Bucks County Council Leader Martin Tett, also chairman of the 51m campaign group, said: "Lord Justice Sullivan gives a very strong steer that HS2 Ltd has failed both in its obligation to fully assess the environmental implications of the project and vitally to assess these against the alternative we have put forward. His comments in his judgement are damning of the Department for Transport’s approach. 

"This is another example of the Department for Transport and HS2 Ltd riding roughshod over public opinion, ploughing ahead regardless of what local communities want and ignoring the environmental merits of the alternatives.

"We have evidence that our alternative to HS2 would provide all of the capacity required, far more quickly, at a fraction of the cost and would be less damaging to the environment."

The 51m group - made up of local authorities affected by the route of the line - have today asked for permission to appeal to the country's highest court, the Supreme Court.