The Supreme Court today (22nd Jan 2014) rejected anti-HS2 campaigners’ appeal that the Government should comply with the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) Directive when planning HS2. The grounds for the dismissal included that HS2 Ltd’s “Decisions and Next Steps” document (Jan 2012),
“did not constrain the decision-making process of the authority responsible, which is Parliament. Formally, and in reality, Parliament is autonomous, and not bound by any “criteria” contained in previous Government statements…”
“There is a distinction in the context of the SEA Directive between merely influencing subsequent consideration and setting limits on the scope of what can be considered. Until Parliament has reached its decision, the merits of all aspects of the HS2 project remain open to debate…”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said
“We are disappointed with this decision. 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, even though they have been taken to court over these matters, HS2 Ltd are still treating the environmental regulations as box ticking operations. The ongoing environmental consultation has been twice extended by the House of Commons Standing Orders committee and the House of Lords Standing Order Committee, due to failings in the process by HS2 Ltd. We hope that other MPs look closely at the environmental issues surround the Bill, and do not simply wave it through.
“This is not a game: if it goes ahead HS2 will affect the areas it blasts through for ever both in urban areas and the countryside. We have a duty to future generations to make sure that the environment is protected.”
Joe Rukin, Campaign Manager for Stop HS2 said
“The court have ruled on a point of law, saying that HS2 haven’t acted illegally, but the fact remains that HS2 Ltd have acted unfairly and irresponsibly right from the start. The Government will try and paint this as a positive, but the reality is that HS2 is being rushed through without due diligence, which has been demonstrated by two Parliamentary committees extending consultation deadlines in the space of a week, and we know that HS2 is the wrong project for the country at this time and the budget for this white elephant will only continue to balloon out of control. We will continue to fight, and in the end, we will win.
“This leaves the Strategic Environmental Assessment legislation in tatters. This ruling gives a green light for government to side step legislation intended to preserve heritage, culture and the environment.”
Roger Waller, Chiltern Countryside Group said
“This is a bleak day for all protected landscapes.”