HS2 challenge goes to appeal

TV presenter and environmental campaigner Chris Packham has taken his fight against the HS2 high-speed rail scheme to the Court of Appeal after losing his High Court bid to stop the clearing of ancient woodlands. 

“Enough is enough. It’s time we pulled this absurd vanity project. It’s time to Stop HS2,” Packham told his 400,000-strong army of Twitter followers.

His lawyers maintain that the Government gave the green light to the scheme based on a ‘complete misapprehension’ of the environmental impact.

The presenter took his case to the High Court in April seeking an emergency injunction to stop works he claimed would cause destruction or irreparable loss to ancient woodland sites.

His application was unsuccessful, but now his lawyers hope to convince Court of Appeal judges that there were failings in the way the Government reached its decision to give the HS2 project the go-ahead.

The presenter used his Twitter feed to explain 11 key reasons behind the legal challenge, claiming the scheme was “obsolete before it’s even started”.

The Government is opposing the challenge but Packham’s supporters are concerned that the building work will damage hundreds of wildlife sites and destroy dozens of ancient woodlands.

The presenter argues that the Prime Minister and Transport Secretary failed to have regard to the implications of the Paris Agreement when they took the decision and that the business case for HS2 had not taken the impact of coronavirus into account.

He said: “I am delighted that the Lord Justices see merit in hearing the appeal and that they have acknowledged the ‘considerable public interest’ in the case – a public interest which spans the heinous and irreparable damage done to ancient woodland, breeding birds, badgers and bats this Spring, the complete incompatibility of this project to the government’s obligations to address climate change, the appalling conduct of HS2 Ltd and its employees in a time of global crisis, and the future drain that the project will be on that public’s purse, which due to the pandemic is empty.”

Supporters providing witness evidence include the RSPB and the Woodland Trust. Meanwhile members of the Chiltern Society have been taking pictures across the Chilterns since 2010 and monitoring the impact of construction work on the landscape in an HS2 photo diary.

Meanwhile Greenpeace launched a Twitter campaign ahead of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s keynote speech in parliament about the economy calling on him to invest in a green recovery.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is recovery.jpeg

Campaigners altered road signs on the chancellor’s route to work to get the message across that they believe the government must do more to tackle the climate emergency at the same time as trying to grow the economy.

Leave a Reply