On appeal from: [2013] EWCA Civ 920; [2013] EWHC 481 Admin

These appeals arose from a Command Paper setting out the Government’s strategy for obtaining development consent for a high speed rail link from London to the north known as HS2. The appellant’s judicial review was upheld in relation to certain aspects of the consultation process but dismissed on the issues relevant to these appeals; namely whether the Command Paper should have been preceded by a strategic environmental assessment under Directive 2001/42/EC, and also whether the Bill procedure as currently proposed will comply with Directive 2011/92/EU or whether it is aimed to prevent effective public participation.

The Supreme Court unanimously dismissed the appeal. The purpose of the environmental assessment Directive is to prevent major effects on the environment being predetermined by earlier planning measures before the environmental impact assessment stage is reached. The Command Paper is an elaborate description of the HS2 project, and does not constitute a document that sets the framework for the grant of planning consent.

Regarding the hybrid Bill procedure, although it was held to be appropriate to consider the appellant’s contention at the present stage rather than waiting until legislation had been enacted, the contention that the procedure as currently envisaged will not permit an adequate examination of the environmental information was held to be unpersuasive.

For judgment, please download: [2014] UKSC 3

For Court’s press summary, please download: Court’s Press Summary

For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII