Judgment given in the High Speed Rail appeal

24 Jul 2013

Judgment was handed down today by the Court of Appeal in the appeal from the judgment of Mr Justice Ouseley on a number of judicial review challenges to the Government’s decision to proceed with a high speed rail link from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. The Judge had dismissed challenges to HS2 brought by 15 local authorities located along the route of HS2. The local authorities had contended that the Government’s decision failed to comply with the SEA Directive, that to proceed in Parliament by way of the hybrid bill procedure breached EU environmental law (the EIA Directive), that the consultation leading to the decision was faulty, that the Government failed to comply with its public sector equalities duty and that, in a number of respects, the decision was irrational.

The Court of Appeal (Master of the Rolls, Richards LJ and Sullivan LJ) dismissed the appeal on the EIA, consultation, PSED and irrationality grounds.  The Master of the Rolls and Richards LJ also dismissed the appeal on the SEA ground, but Sullivan LJ dissented.  He concluded that “if … 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”.

The Court of Appeal granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court on the SEA and EIA grounds.

Kassie Smith QC acted for the local authorities.

Please click here to read the full judgment on HS2 v Secretary of State for Transport

The case has been widely covered in the press;

BBC News

ITV News

The Independent