Day 1 In The Supreme Court

David Elvin QC opened proceedings for HS2AA in front of seven judges of the Supreme Court today. The core of the HS2AA case centred on whether the 2012 “decision” to proceed with HS2 (taken by the Government) set the framework for giving consent by Parliament to HS2. This is because Government exerts extensive influence  on how Parliament will vote on HS2. HS2AA’s case is that it does set the framework and hence a Strategic Environmental Assessment was required. This is because if an SEA had been done the environmental implications of alternatives would have been considered before a decision to proceed was made-but they were not.

David Elvin QC added that the Aarhus Convention, which is an international agreement designed to ensure public participation in environmental decisions, was relevant and this supported the view that an SEA was needed. It was also noted that a lack of European case law on the points being made by HS2AA meant a reference to the European Court of Justice may be required.

The Supreme Court also questioned matters that had been settled in previous hearings on the case.

Following the HS2AA case, Charles Banner, acting for Heathrow Hub, supported HS2AA’s case that an SEA should have been undertaken, using the example of how the Heathrow Hub alternative had been ruled out without any environmental assessment of the alternatives being done.

Natalie Lieven QC, acting for various local authorities opposed to HS2, also supported HS2AA’s case but concentrated on the issue of whether the Hybrid Bill procedures, which the Government plan to follow to obtain consent to build HS2, meet the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations. She argued that the environmental issues would not be properly taken into account by Parliament because they would not be considered in detail until after the principal of HS2 had been settled at Second Reading of the Hybrid Bill.

The case continues tomorrow.

Comments are closed.