PLANS for a new high-speed rail link to Crewe received a boost today after the Supreme Court unanimously rejected anti-HS2 appeals.
The Court of Appeal gave HS2 Action Alliance permission to appeal on two grounds; that the Government was required, and failed, to comply with the Strategic Environmental Assessment and a claim hybrid Bill will breach the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive.
Campaigners said the ruling sets a precedent for Governments to avoid laws designed to protect the environment by choosing to obtain planning permission from Parliament, rather than from an independent commission or inspector.
"We are disappointed with this decision,” said Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2. “It’s clear from the judgement that the judges are expecting Members of Parliament to look carefully at the HS2 hybrid Bill, and not simply follow the party whip.
“But the Government has shown that it is eager to rush this legislation through, in the hope that no-one spots the problems with it.
“However, we hope that other MPs look closely at the environmental issues surrounding the Bill, and do not simply wave it through.”
Transport Minister Baroness Kramer welcomed the decision and said the Government will now press ahead with the delivery of HS2.
“The Government’s handling of the project has been fully vindicated by the highest court in the land,” she said.
“The new north-south line will provide extra space for more trains and more passengers to travel on the network, delivering additional capacity where it is most needed.
“HS2 will also generate thousands of jobs across the UK and provide opportunities to boost skills.
“It is part of the government’s long-term economic plan to build a stronger, more competitive economy and secure a better future for Britain.
“HS2 is also essential in helping rebalance UK growth – bringing greater prosperity to the Midlands and the north – and we are continuing with the crucial business of getting the scheme ready for construction in 2017.”