The Hon Mr Justice Ouseley ruled categorically in the Government’s favour on nine out of 10 broad areas of challenge against HS2 Phase One.
But on the issue of the consultation process for compensating those affected by the £33bn scheme, the Government suffered a setback when the judge rules it “was so unfair as to be unlawful”.
High speed 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 judge agreed it was lawful for the Government to choose to rule out upgrading the existing network as a credible alternative to HS2. He noted that a patch and mend approach failed 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 Phase One route, environmental assessment and consideration of the impact on habitats and protected species, had all been carried out fairly and lawfully.
Fifteen local authorities challenging the Secretary of State for Transport lost on all seven grounds of challenge they attempted. The government will be seeking to recoup legal costs from the claimants.
But the judge upheld a challenge concerning the way the property compensation consultation had been carried out.
In order to save time and public money and to limit the impact on residents affected, the Government has decided that instead of appealing this decision it will re-run this consultation in line with the judge’s finding that further consideration should have been given to other potential compensation models.
A re-run property compensation consultation will not affect the HS2 construction timetable in any way.
The minister added: “HS2 is the most significant infrastructure investment the UK has seen in modern times and a project the country cannot afford to do without. The judgement ensures that nothing now stands in the way of taking our plans to Parliament.
“We will now move forward as planned with the crucial business of getting the scheme ready for construction in 2017 and delivering enormous benefits for the country.
“We have listened to the judge’s comments about the property compensation consultation and to save time and public money we will reconsult on this aspect – but this will not delay HS2. We remain fully committed to fairly compensating the public who are impacted by the scheme.”
The next stages for the HS2 project are a consultation on the draft environmental statement in the spring and the deposit of a hybrid bill by the end of the year.