Opponents mount High Court bid to derail HS2

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A SERIES of legal challenges to the development of the £32bn HS2 high speed rail link were set to get under way today.

Opponents of the massive scheme have managed to get a judicial review, which could threaten whether the rail link goes ahead as planned.

The High Court challenges ranges from an alliance of 15 councils – which includes Warwickshire County Council – to a group of residents.

The challenges are based on the route of the proposed link, the potential damage it could cause to the countryside, whether environmental impact studies have been conducted properly and the loss of value to homes along the route.

In total, five cases will be heard during the seven-day process but a decision on the outcome is not expected until next year.

The hearings have the potential to heap further misery on new Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, still reeling from the debacle surrounding the award and subsequent cancellation of the West Coast Main Line tender.

It is understood the Government is keen to press ahead with the scheme, which has widespread support from the business community in the West Midlands because of the potential benefits it could bring to the regional economy.

The Department for Transport, which was also embarrassed over the WCML fiasco, has said it is confident in its decisions over HS2 and intends to defend itself against the challenges.