Court ruling on high speed rail rejects challengers

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The planned high speed rail network through Sheffield is a step closer after the Court of Appeal rejected a challenge from protesters.

Groups representing communities on the first stretch of the proposed network, between London and Birmingham, were concerned about how environmental impact assessments had been carried out.

The Court of Appeal agreed it was lawful for the Government to choose to rule out upgrading the existing network as a credible alternative to HS2.

It also agreed with the High Court that the Government’s approach to consultation on the principle of HS2 and the phase one route, and on environmental and equalities assessments, had all been carried out fairly and lawfully.

Construction of phase one of the scheme to Birmingham is due to begin in 2017, with the line set to open in 2026. The full route including sections to Manchester and Leeds via Sheffield is due to open by 2033.

The cost of the scheme has increased by around one third from £32 billion to just over £40 billion.

Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, said: “I still think there is a long way to go but this judgement does move it closer and make it more likely.”