HS2 latest green light emphasises Government determination, cautions Lodders

The failure of the latest legal bid to scupper the HS2 high-speed rail line is confirmation that the flagship project is most unlikely to be derailed, an expert has warned.

Alastair Frew, partner and head of the HS2 advisory group at Stratford-upon-Avon law firm Lodders, said the Government appeared determined to press ahead.

His comments came in the wake of a Court of Appeal ruling rejecting a call by residents’ groups and 15 councils along the route for a further assessment of the scheme as a whole.

Judges dismissed all seven grounds of challenge against the London-Birmingham section of HS2, but said a final appeal could be made to the Supreme Court. With the objectors indicating that such an appeal is likely, the Transport Minister Simon Burns observed that such an appeal would be a “waste” of taxpayers’ money.

He charged: “By dismissing all seven grounds of appeal and declining to refer the case to Europe, this is the second time in four months a court has rejected attempts to derail HS2. Parliament is the right place to debate the merits of HS2, not the law courts, and we will introduce the hybrid bill for phase one before the year is out.”

Mr Frew said: “The Government seems to see HS2 as a badge of honour.

“Whatever its merits or de-merits it is not going to go away – there is no sign of the Coalition retreating from their commitment.

“Opponents have every right to continue to challenge HS2 and I am sure they will. But the odds are stacked against them.”

The project, currently expected to cost £42.6 billion, is intended to allow trains to run at 250 mph from London to Birmingham from 2026, with branches to Manchester and Leeds – via Sheffield – planned by 2032.

Objectors maintain there is little economic case for a scheme which, they allege, would cause an unacceptable level of environmental damage, loss of homes and disruption to communities.

Lodders has urged them to take sensible compensation advice whatever the status of their protest.