The HS2 railway, which hopes to massively reduce Britain’s congestion problems and link London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds can go ahead with plans to start construction after a High Court ruled it was lawful for the government to build it.
In what has been described as a “landmark victory” by the rail minister Simon Burns, the judge ruled in favour of the government in nine out of ten areas of challenge.
The Hon Mr Justice Ouseley decided the government had done everything within their power to ensure that issues surrounding the environment, habitats and protected species had been fairly and legally considered.
In one of the biggest judicial reviews that the government has faced, the judge said it was lawful for the government to build a new railway system instead of changing the current network as this would not meet the needs set out by the government to boost economic growth.
The only area where a challenge was upheld was the way consulting of property compensation had been carried out. The judge decided that further consideration should be given to other means of compensation.
In order to save time, money and limit the impact on residents, the secretary of state decided to re-run the consultation rather than appeal the decision. This will not affect the schedule for building the HS2, which is expected to reach speeds of 250mph, cutting a journey from Birmingham to London to just 49 minutes.
Latest figures estimate that the HS2 will bring in £2 for every £1 invested in the scheme and a total of £47 billion in user benefits to businesses when the network is complete.
Simon Burns said: “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.”
A full consultation on the environmental statement will be the next stage for the HS2 project, which is estimated to support around 40,000 jobs. The first phase of the high speed railway is planned to open in 2026 with the entire network working by 2032/33.
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