CAMPAIGNERS fighting HS2 are angry and frustrated after winning just one of the arguments in the High Court today (Friday) - and they have vowed to fight on.

Mr Justice Ouseley ruled that former Transport Secretary, Justine Greening's, consultation on the various forms of property compensation that would be offered to affected homeowners, was unlawful.

But the government swiftly responded by declaring it would not appeal, would re-consult, and that the judge's decision would not delay the monster project.

The crux of Mr Justice Ouseley's ruling on the unlawfulness of the compensation consultation is summed up thus: "The secretary of state did not provide consultees with sufficient information about how the three options for a discretionary compensation scheme might be applied, or made to work differently in practice, for informed responses to be made as to which one should be taken forward for detailed consultation."

The secretary of state had consulted on a range of three options for addressing the issue of generalised blight.

The first option was a hardship-based property purchase scheme akin to the Exceptional Hardship Scheme, enabling those whose property fell outside the safeguarded zones, but who were affected by generalised blight and suffered hardship as a result to have their property purchased. There would be criteria and valuation procedures. The Government was concerned that this 'would inevitably lead' to it owning properties which were not required for the scheme, with a concerning effect on the local property market and community.

The second option was a bond-based scheme. The qualifying property owner would seek a Government guarantee that it would purchase the property at a later date in the evolution of the project at its unaffected value. The guarantee would be transferable, and the confidence which that would give to purchasers would enable the local property market to keep functioning. Since that 'may still lead' to the Government owning significant numbers of properties, it explored a third option of a promise to pay compensation.

Thus the third option was the compensation bond scheme. The Government would promise a qualifying property owner to pay fair compensation for the loss of significant value due to the new line, and would embody that promise in a certificate which would be transferable. The guarantee could only be called on after the railway had been in operation for a year.

But this was just one plank of a complex appeal to the High Court which failed on all other counts: of being against European environmental law, of 'irrationality' based on the ability of Euston station to cope, that the hybrid bill approach was unlawful, among others.

Mr Justice Ouseley concluded: "Although the overall decision [to proceed with HS2] is not irrational, the carefully reasoned and substantial HS2AA [one of the appelants] consultation response, addressing the consultation issues as framed by the secretary of state, cannot have been conscientiously considered.

"All in all, the consultation on compensation was so unfair as to be unlawful.

HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA) had argued that there had been inadequate information for homeowners to make a judgement on the compensation packages on offer, that the outcome had been prejudged and that the results were not given enough consideration by the secretary of state.

The judge agreed with the first and third point but it is scant comfort for anti-HS2 campaigners, who nonetheless have vowed to fight on.

Some managed to be philosophical. Doreen McIntyre, chairman of Harefield Against HS2, said: "For me the ruling shines a light on the way they're going about the whole thing.

"It's great that [the campaigners] got this win because it's the bit that affects people's lives the most. It gets to the heart of the problem.

"They said people would be generously compensated and it's been proved this was not the case.They now need to be more honest about how many people this will affect.

"For Harefield this is such a big issue."

Lottie Jones, chairman of Ruislip Against HS2, who was at the court, said she was bitterly disappointed by Mr Justice Ouseley's decision.

"We are obviously absolutely furious. The judge seems to be ignoring the major issues," she said.

"How bad does it have to be before someone says it is irrational?"

The chairman of Hillingdon Against HS2, Keri Brennan, also speaking from the High Court immediately after the ruling, said: "My first reaction is that this is just round one.

"Today is just more money being wasted, more time being wasted and more lives being ruined."

Councillor Ray Puddifoot, the leader of Hillingdon Council, vowed the fight would continue.

He expresses his surprise that the appelants had only won on one of the arguments, and said he felt the judge's ruling that the Environmental Impact Assessment did not need to be considered until the hybrid bill stage was 'too late'.

But the hardest part to comprehend, he said, was the government's stance that no decision has yet been made on HS2, and the whole thing is merely a consultation framework.

"It defies the reality of the situation," he said.

"We thought it was a joke when the government lawyer got on to his feet this morning and said that they had not made a decision.

"It's very hard for people who have received a letter saying their house is going to be 'taken out' to feel that the government has not made a decision.

"Obviously we are going to appeal. This is by no means a done deal. We are well capable of winning the argument here.

"There is a lot of fight left in this."

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The ruling in full: