Setback for high-speed rail plan

15 March 2013
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
Mobile version
Share |
Government consultations on compensating those affected by the proposed HS2 high-speed rail scheme have been ruled

Government consultations on compensating those affected by the proposed HS2 high-speed rail scheme have been ruled

The government's HS2 high-speed rail scheme suffered a setback when the High Court ruled that the consultation process for compensating those affected by the multibillion-pound project "was so unfair as to be unlawful".

The decision was a victory for the High Speed 2 Action Alliance (HS2AA), consisting of more than 70 affiliated action groups and residents' associations.

The HS2AA case on consultation was one of five separate cases brought to block the controversial scheme in its current form. It was the only case to succeed.

Mr Justice Ouseley, sitting at London's High Court, is now hearing submissions from lawyers on the appropriate remedy.

The first phase of HS2 would see a high-speed line running through Tory heartlands from London to Birmingham.

A second phase extends the line to Leeds and Manchester to create what will become known as "the Y network".

The project is designed to cut journey times, ease overcrowding and boost regional business.

The government hailed the court's decision on the cases it won as a "landmark victory" and said the loss on the compensation case would "not affect the HS2 construction timetable in any way".

Rail Minister Simon Burns said: "This is a major landmark victory for HS2 and the future of Britain.

The judge has categorically given the green light for the government to press ahead without delay in building a high-speed railway from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds."

The then transport secretary Justine Greening gave HS2 the go-ahead in January 2012.

The judge said the £33 million scheme might in future be extended to Glasgow and Edinburgh, while the first phase would include a direct link with the existing high-speed Channel Tunnel rail link (HS1).

The judge stressed that it was not his task to review the merits of HS2 itself, but to consider whether the decisions setting it up were legally flawed.

He identified 10 grounds raised in the five cases brought by various opponents, including 18 local councils, scores of residents' associations and action groups, plus farmers and a golf club.

He rejected nine out of 10 of the grounds, which included attacks on the manner in which the project had been steered through Parliament and alleged breaches of EU environmental and habitat directives.

He also dismissed allegations that the government failed to take account of relevant issues and was guilty of indirect discrimination because of the impact of redevelopment of London's Euston station on the local ethnic minority community.

The 10th - and only successful - challenge was HS2AA's claim that the consultation and decision-making process on compensation was "fundamentally unfair".

Some 172,000 properties within 0.6 miles (1km) of the first phase are alleged to be affected by "HS2 blight".

David Wolfe QC, appearing for HS2AA, said tens of thousands of people who "just happen to live and own properties" along the high-speed route faced loss of value on their homes and being unable to move or remortgage for 15 years or more.

Mr Wolfe told the judge that 172,000 affected households had been contacted. 

Householders faced inadequate compensation and the prospect of unfairly being made to suffer because of the claimed public interest in HS2 going ahead.

He said the consultation process was flawed because of "lack of detail" and insufficient information from Ms Greening on the options for a discretionary compensation scheme.

Allowing the HS2AA challenge, Mr Justice Ouseley ruled: "Although the overall decision is not irrational, the carefully reasoned and substantial HS2AA consultation response addressing the consultation issues as framed by the Secretary of State cannot have been conscientiously considered.

"All in all, the consultation on compensation was so unfair as to be unlawful."

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1605

"We visit Barcelona, one of the smartest cities in the world, to find out what makes it so special. What does it look like and what is the future?"

E&T jobs

  • Senior Development Engineer, Electronics

    Premium job

    Helmet Integrated Systems / Gentex Corporation
    • Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire
    • Competitive

    We are an innovative, robust and fast growing business, whose main focus is to deliver continues improvement to existing products and offer new sol..

    • Recruiter: Helmet Integrated Systems / Gentex Corporation

    Apply for this job

  • Smart Grid Research Engineer

    Premium job

    University of Strathclyde
    • Cumbernauld, Glasgow
    • Grade: 6/7* £26,537 - £37,768*

    Work as part of a growing dynamic team on a wide range of technical projects with particular emphasis on experimental validation and testing

    • Recruiter: University of Strathclyde

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Asset Specialist

    Affinity Water
    • Hatfield, Hertfordshire

    Responsible for updating and writing electrical engineering standards, approved codes of practice and safe systems of work

    • Recruiter: Affinity Water

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Electronics Engineer

    York Instruments
    • York, North Yorkshire

    Senior electronics engineer to work as part of a team developing an MEG imaging system; working with the engineering team and external contractors.

    • Recruiter: York Instruments

    Apply for this job

  • Manufacturing Engineer - Circuit Card Assembly

    MBDA
    • Lostock Junction
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What’s the opportunity?   Manufacturing UK is an integral part of the Operations Directorate whose principal mission is to ensure that MBDA’s deliverable commitments are met...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • High Voltage Engineer

    Premium job

    Essex X-Ray & Medical Equipment
    • Great Dunmow, Essex

    This High Voltage Engineer will provide design leadership for high voltage cable assemblies up to one megavolt.

    • Recruiter: Essex X-Ray & Medical Equipment

    Apply for this job

  • Team Leader - Flank Arrays

    BAE Systems
    • Barrow-In-Furness, Cumbria, England
    • Negotiable

    Team Leader - Flank Arrays Would you like to work in a unique role within the construction of the Astute Class submarines? We currently have a vacancy for a Team Leader - Flank Arrays at our site in Barrow-in-Furness. As a Team Leader - Flank Arrays, you

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Electronics and Software Engineer

    Copley Scientific Ltd
    • Nottingham
    • circa £35,000 per annum + bonus

    Develop new test equipment for the pharmaceutical industry. Good opportunities to grow and develop. Successful family-owned and managed business.

    • Recruiter: Copley Scientific Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Bridge Test Facility Manager

    BAE Systems
    • Shropshire, Telford, England
    • Negotiable

    Bridge Test Facility ManagerWe currently have a vacancy for a Bridge Test Facility Manager at our site in Telford with our Land UK business.As the Bridge Test Facility Manager, you will be part of our Test & Trials team, working closely with the Mili

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Intelligent Transport Systems Engineer - Highways Technology

    Premium job

    Mott MacDonald
    • Birmingham, West Midlands

    Our transport technology team in Birmingham is currently growing a highly skilled and customer-focused team to...

    • Recruiter: Mott MacDonald

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T