ENVIRONMENTAL campaigner and TV presenter Chris Packham has lost his Court of Appeal challenge over the legality of the HS2 high-speed rail scheme.
He had argued there were failings in the way the government decided to give the project the go-ahead but judges have refused permission for a judicial review into the cabinet’s decision to give the multibillion pound project the “green signal” in February.
Expressing his disappointment in a 10-minute video to his 434,000 Twitter followers, Packham said: “Today is a dark day for us, our wildlife, our environment and our planet. And darker still for our government.”
But he added: “Winning is not giving up – and we’re not giving up.”
Environmentalists say the high-speed rail project is leading to irreversible destruction of ancient habitats and woodlands.
Packham said the case for HS2 should be revisited despite Friday’s ruling. He argues the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on public finances and the need for a green recovery has undone the business and environmental case for the line.
“Obviously we are deeply disappointed by today’s ruling. But the fact is, we are a world away from the place we were when we issued the original claim for judicial review,” he said.
“People now see that a scheme for a railway which will tear up the countryside so that we can shave a few minutes off a journey time, makes no sense in the contemporary workplace.”
HS2 is set to link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds. A spokesman for HS2 Ltd told the BBC it took its commitment to the environment “extremely seriously” and there was “safeguarding in place to protect wildlife and other natural assets”.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said the project was “crucial to rebuilding our economy from coronavirus”.