Rail review results announced

Friday 15th March 2013

The results of the five Judicial Reviews, heard in December, into the Government’s decision on phase 1 of HS2 between London and the West Midlands have today been announced.

Of the 10 broad areas of challenge made against HS2, the Judge ruled in favour of one.  He agreed that the consultation on property compensation was fatally flawed. This consultation will be re-run.

For a project of this scale, the UK should be demonstrating leadership and ensuring it is being carried out in an exemplary way

The Judicial Review, brought by HS2 Action Alliance, set out environmental grounds challenging the lawfulness of the Government’s decision on phase 1 of HS2.  However, the Hon Mr Justice Ouseley dismissed the three key environmental points (lack of Strategic Environment Assessment, lack of Appropriate Assessment and incompatibility of the hybrid bill process with the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive).

HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA), the organisation which led the Judicial Review claiming the Government had acted unlawfully by not carrying out the Strategic Environmental Assessment, will appeal against this judgement, and The Wildlife Trusts will continue to support HS2AA in its appeal.

The Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) process is one that, under European Union law, has to be applied to large-scale plans.  It ensures decision-makers are fully aware of the environmental consequences of their decisions, and have thought through possible alternatives.  The key aspect of an SEA is that there has to be full consultation.

Matt Jackson, Head of Strategy and Conservation Policy at the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) commented:

"The court's decision today, if it stands, adds to the pressure for proper alternatives to be looked at when HS2 Ltd’s Environmental Impact Assessment of the route is brought out in spring, and for Parliament itself to take proper account of wildlife if the HS2 hybrid bill goes forward.  The Judge has ruled that much of the consideration of impact on wildlife and the environment can take place later in the process, but we have grave concerns about how that will happen in practice."

Paul Wilkinson, Head of Living Landscape for The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“For a project of this scale, the UK should be demonstrating leadership and ensuring it is being carried out in an exemplary way.

“The draft environmental statement, due to be released for consultation in the spring, will be the next major test of whether HS2 will be a disaster or deliver for nature. To ensure the best results are achieved, for wildlife and for people the statement should be clear that the project will aim to minimise damage to the natural environment and work to maximise its repair.

“As the process continues, The Wildlife Trusts will continue to hold Ministers and HS2 Ltd to account and encourage them to be ambitious in their plans for nature.”

Tagged with: Living Landscapes