Full speed ahead for HS2 as consultation protests thrown out of court

HS2, the high-speed rail project linking Birmingham with London, Manchester and Leeds, is unlikely to face any further delays following a ruling in the High Court on the consultation process.

Rail minister Simon Burns said the ruling is “a major landmark victory” for the project.

The Government won nine out of ten points being challenged, effectively giving the “green light” to the project.

However, the consultation into compensation for those affected was ruled “unlawful” by Mr Justice Ouseley.

Five judicial reviews were brought by four protest groups, including 18 councils and campaign group High Speed 2 Action Alliance (HS2AA).

They had claimed there were failures in the consultation process.

Burns said the judge had delivered a “convincing decision… on all the key issues of the way in which the Department for Transport has handled the moving forward of HS2”.

He confirmed the Government will not appeal against the compensation ruling. Instead, the DfT will hold another property consultation “picking up the points” raised by the judge.

The judge also agreed that it was lawful for the Government to choose to rule out upgrading the existing network as a credible alternative to HS2.

He noted that a patch and mend approach failed to meet the Government’s objectives of providing a long-term boost to capacity and economic growth. The judge also found that the Government’s general approach to consultation had been carried out fairly and lawfully.

On the compensation packages issue, Iain Johnston, planning partner at law firm Brabners Chaffe Street and an expert on HS2 said: “This may be good news for those landowners and residents who, under the existing compensation package would potentially lose out but still be subject to general blight on their properties for many years.”

The London to Birmingham section of the link aims to be running by 2025 with work likely to start in 2016.