HS2 appeal rejected at the CoA

The Court of Appeal (CoA) has rejected a bid by campaigners to block Government plans for the construction of the proposed High Speed 2 (HS2) railway.

The decision was a victory for the Treasury Solicitor, who had turned to Landmark Chambers ’ Tim Mould QC to respond to the appeal brought by local councils and protest groups against the plans.

Landmark Chambers was also involved for the appellants, with silks David Elvin QC and Nathalie Lieven QC acting for two of the groups.

Today’s decision follows a High Court judgment earlier this year (15 March 2013 ), when the Government won all but one ground against judicial review of the proposals.

Three sets of claimants, from the original four, took the case to the CoA, appealing against Mr Justice Ouseley’s decision on grounds relating to the application of EU environmental directives, grounds relating to the lawfulness of the consultation process and other grounds relating to the lawfulness of the decision to proceed with HS2.

In their leading judgment, the Master of the Rolls Lord Dyson and Lord Justice Richards dismissed three grounds of appeal and refused permission to appeal on other grounds. Lord Justice Sullivan agreed with Dyson MR and Richards LJ on most grounds of appeal, but said a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) was required, as suggested by the appellants.

Campaign group HS2 Action Alliance was given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on this issue.

In a statement the group’s director Hilary Wharf said: “We will continue our fight to make sure that the Government does not duck its environmental responsibilities over HS2. We can see from the Phase 1 Draft Environmental Statement that cost savings are the top priority rather than protecting irreplaceable landscapes for future generations. The Government must properly take the environment into account.

“There is little case law on the specific point of law on which we lost. We are confident that our position is a strong one and we are pleased that the Court has allowed our appeal to the Supreme Court. It’s concerning however that we have to go to the highest court in the land to make the Government give the environment the respect it deserves.”

The legal line-up:

For the first appellant, HS2 Action Alliance

Landmark Chambers’ David Elvin QC and Charles Banner, instructed by SJ Berwin partner Simon Ricketts

For the second appellant, Buckinghamshire County Council and others

Landmark Chambers’ Nathalie Lieven QC and Monckton Chambers ’ Kassie Smith QC, instructed by Harrison Grant partner Kate Harrison

For the third appellant, Heathrow Hub and another

Landmark Chambers’ Charles Banner, instructed by Nabarro partner Christopher Stanwell and senior associate Rob Bruce

For the respondent, the Secretary of State for Transport

Landmark Chambers’ Tim Mould QC, Jacqueline Lean and Richard Turney, instructed by the Treasury Solicitor