BBOWT comment on the HS2 Judicial Review

  |  Published: Mar 16th 2013

HS2 Judicial Review: appeal against judgement

 

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust is very disappointed that the High Court has sided with the Government in ruling that the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Directive does not apply to HS2. The High Court has also rejected the Government’s claim that it had, in practice, complied with the requirements of the SEA.  This leaves an opportunity to appeal against the judgement.

 

HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA), the organisation which led the Judicial Review claiming the Government had acted unlawfully by not carrying out the SEA, will appeal against this judgement, and the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) will continue to support HS2AA in their appeal.

 

Matt Jackson, Head of Strategy and Conservation Policy at BBOWT commented: "The court's decision today, if it stands, adds to the pressure for proper alternatives to be looked at when HS2 Ltd’s Environmental Impact Assessment of the route is brought out in spring, and for Parliament itself to take proper account of wildlife if the HS2 hybrid bill goes forward. The Judge has ruled that much of the consideration of impact on wildlife and the environment can take place later in the process, but we have grave concerns about how that will happen in practice."

 

BBOWT and Warwickshire Wildlife Trust supported the Judicial Review brought by HS2 Action Alliance, which set out environmental grounds challenging the lawfulness of the Government’s decision on phase one of HS2.

The submission focused on how, in our view, the Government had acted unlawfully in not complying with Strategic Environmental Assessment regulations, and ignored its obligations under the Habitats Directive to carry out impact assessments on protected species and habitats. We believe the Government had tried to side-step a vital process for ensuring that decisions that affect the environment are soundly made.

The very important Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) process is one that, under European Union law, has to be applied to large-scale plans. SEA ensures decision-makers are fully aware of the environmental consequences of their decisions, and have thought through possible alternatives. The key aspect of an SEA is that there has to be consultation and a consideration of alternatives. With HS2 those are the aspects that we’re most concerned about. 

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