Latest HS2 high-speed rail challenge rejected

The latest challenge to the government's plans for the HS2 national high-speed rail project was rejected on Wednesday by the Court of Appeal.

Objectors to the scheme, including fifteen councils and residents' associations from along the proposed route -- from London to Birmingham and eventually Manchester and Leeds -- had asked appeal judges to order a further assessment of the project.

The judges dismissed all seven grounds of the challenge but gave the go-ahead for a final appeal to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

Following the court ruling, transport minister Simon Burns said construction of the line was set to go ahead from 2017 and urged opponents not to "waste any more taxpayers' money on expensive litigation".

Objectors argue the current plans will damage beauty spots like the Chiltern Hills, west of London, as well as destroying homes, disrupting communities en route and costing too much.

The official contingency cost of the project has recently climbed from ??33 billion to ??42.6 billion.

Supporters of HS2, or High Speed 2, which is meant to cut journey times between London and Birmingham to 49 minutes from around 85 minutes, say it will boost economic growth and create vital jobs.