Updated: Monday, 6th July 2020 @ 6:52pm

Fate of controversial HS2 rail service plans linking Manchester and London to be decided by Court of Appeal

Fate of controversial HS2 rail service plans linking Manchester and London to be decided by Court of Appeal

By Helen Le Caplain

HS2 high-speed rail plans, set to create quicker links between Manchester and London, will face challenges in the Court of Appeal today.

Fifteen councils and other objectors want the appeal judges to order additional assessments of the scheme as a whole.

Those opposed to the project say it will cost far too much to get HS2, in its proposed form, up and running from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds – estimating a total cost of £58 billion.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "It is unfortunate but inevitable that opponents of HS2 will do whatever they can to delay the Government's plans, but the Government remains committed to delivering HS2 as quickly as possible."

Former Labour cabinet minister Lord Mandelson, ex-Chancellor and former Transport Secretary Alistair Darling, and ITV chairman and former Tory MP Archie Norman all cast doubt on the scheme in the last few weeks.

However David Cameron yesterday reiterated HS2's importance, saying it was essential if Britain was to be a winner in the global race.

Opponents to the scheme say it will cause an unacceptable level of environmental damage, loss of homes and disruption to many communities - without the public having had a fair hearing and a chance to suggest other alternatives.

David Elvin QC, appearing for HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA), told the appeal court the project had already blighted a swathe of properties along the route.

He argued it had been given the go-ahead in breach of EU rules requiring a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and that the decision in principle to go ahead, taken by the Transport Secretary in January 2012, breached a European Directive requiring an SEA.

Nine areas of legal challenge were brought to the High Court but only one, regarding how the property compensation consultation for HS2 was carried out, was upheld.

The consultation is now being re-run.

Picture courtesy of JamesZ, via Flickr, with thanks. 

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