Judge Justice Ouseley has this morning thrown out all but one of the claims against the route of High Speed 2.
Only objections relating to the level of compensation due to be paid to those living on or near the route were upheld.
Justice Ouseley had been deliberating since December on objections raised by four separate campaigners against High Speed 2. The challenge is being brought by 51m, a group which represents 15 councils along the route, the HS2 action alliance (HS2AA), Heathrow Hub and Aylesbury Park Golf Club.
The judicial review considered whether the consultation was adequate; whether enough information was provided; whether the project complies with the requirements of the Strategic Environmental Assessment Regulations 2004 and whether enough consideration was given to the impact of HS2 on other parts of the transport infrastructure, among other issues.
Phase one of the £32.7bn total scheme, which runs between London and Birmingham, is to be constructed through areas of outstanding natural beauty as well as running in to the heavily congested Euston station.
The four groups of campaigners were granted a judicial review in the hope of overturning the transport secretary’s decision; each of the groups had overlapping claims and agreed between them to focus on specific areas to challenge the transport secretary’s decision to press ahead with HS2. The judicial review took place in December and ran for two weeks.
But today Justice Ouseley agreed it was lawful for the government to choose to rule out upgrading the existing network as a credible alternative to HS2 – noting that a patch and mend approach fails to meet the government’s objectives of providing a long term boost to capacity and economic growth.
He also found that the government’s approach to consultation on the HS2 strategy and phase one route, environmental assessment and consideration of the impact on habitats and protected species, had all been carried out fairly and lawfully. The 15 local authorities challenging the government lost on all seven grounds of challenge they attempted.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said it will be seeking to recoup legal costs from the claimants.
Dismissal of the claims now paves the way for project promoter HS2 Ltd to put a hybrid bill similar to that used for Crossrail to Parliament by the end of the year for the construction of phase one.
Royal Assent for the £16.3bn first phase is due in 2015 with construction expected to begin shortly afterwards. Phase one is due for completion in 2026. Meanwhile government will work up plans for phase two from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester, with a mooted completion date of 2032/33.