Court hearing over high-speed rail line

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Opponents of the Government’s high-speed rail scheme have asked the High Court to declare the £34 billion project legally flawed and to send it back for reconsideration.

The first phase of the scheme would see a new, high-speed railway line running from London to Birmingham. The line is due to be extended in two separate lines to the north west, and Sheffield and Leeds as part of its second phase.

But the scheme has polarised opinion, with many residents’ groups and some councils bitterly opposing it, while supporters point out the benefits a reduction in journey times could bring.

The legal challenge at the High Court, which could last seven days, could potentially delay the scheme for years if successful.

A barrister for 51m, an alliance of local authorities opposing the scheme, has accused the Government of being guilty of failing to undertake a strategic environmental assessment, or to arrange a consultation process ‘that allows informed responses on the true merits and demerits of the proposals’.

The scheme would see the demolition of hundreds of homes.