It's Time to Take Legal Action Against HS2 (Again)

by Chris Packham (StandfortheTrees.org)

It's Time to Take Legal Action Against HS2 (Again)

by Chris Packham (StandfortheTrees.org)
Chris Packham (StandfortheTrees.org)
Case Owner
I am a wildlife TV presenter & conservationist – please donate to our fundraiser to take the fight to HS2 Ltd today.
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Chris Packham (StandfortheTrees.org)
Case Owner
I am a wildlife TV presenter & conservationist – please donate to our fundraiser to take the fight to HS2 Ltd today.
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Latest: March 2, 2020

Launch of legal challenge to Prime Minister’s HS2 go-ahead decision

Launch of legal challenge against Boris Johnson's approval of HS2 in wake of Heathrow Airport Judgement


On 11 February, Boris Johnson decided to give the go-ahead to Europe’s largest infrast…

Read more


If HS2 goes ahead, it will require the largest deforestation project this country has seen since the First World War.

I, Chris Packham, am taking on HS2 to put a stop to it - for good.

The enormous environmental damage that HS2 will cause is beyond doubt. This £106bn vanity project will destroy precious and irreplaceable natural habitats across the country. Carbon-capturing ecosystems will be destroyed and the route will slice England’s natural habitats in two.

The Wildlife Trust has detailed the terrible damage that HS2 will cause to vast swathes of natural habitats. The numbers are horrifying: we risk losing 108 ancient woodlands; 693 local wildlife site; 33 sites of special scientific interest; and all manner of rare and endangered wildlife.

And the damage has already begun. In September last year, following brilliant work from the NGOs and in the face of the threat of legal action from me, the Government caved and agreed to give Ancient Woodlands a temporary reprieve from the chainsaws and diggers.

But since then, HS2 Ltd and its many contractors have continued other works unabated, felling woodlands, clearing bushes, moving protected species, building roads. This is not ‘low level’. It is serious and irreversible environmental damage up and down the proposed HS2 line. It includes the destruction of important and diverse soils underpinning the health of our woodlands. It includes the unlawful clearance of a protected nature reserve by HS2 Ltd’s contractors without permission. And all this while the Government dithers and dallies on whether, if so how, the HS2 line should be built at all.

It’s utter madness. I have had enough and I’m doing something about it. But I need your help.


WHAT AM I DOING NEXT?

The Government promised to make a decision on the future HS2 by the end of 2019 at the latest, but there’s still no decision and still no certainty from Grant Shapps and Boris Johnson about when we will know. While Shapps and Johnson procrastinate, the relentless unnecessary destruction of the natural world by HS2 Ltd continues unabated. HS2 Ltd claims that this is just ‘low-level’ preparation work but the cumulative harm to our precious woodland, habitats and species is enormous.

All for a project that might not even go ahead.

With your help, my lawyers at Leigh Day will be writing to the Transport Secretary, to the Prime Minister and to HS2 Ltd calling on them to end this destruction now. If they refuse to do so, then I will take the serious but necessary step of challenging them in court - and for an injunction to stop the continued destruction immediately.


HOW CAN YOU HELP?

There are lots of ways you can help us stop the environmental damage happening because of HS2.

First off, please consider donating to fund the legal challenge! Together we can win this. Thanks to the brilliant “Aarhus Convention”, I can do this for a reasonable cost. But I need your help to raise the legal funds. A small contribution from each of us who wants to stop this wanton destruction will go a very long way.

Second, I am crowd-sourcing photos and videos from individuals up and down the country who have witnessed first-hand the environmental destruction that HS2 has caused. If you have photos or other evidence of the damage, please visit Stand for the Trees and upload your evidence.

If you are located near an HS2 site, grab your camera and head to one of the sites to assess the destruction that has happened while the Government has stalled on deciding the future of the HS2 project.


AND WHAT IF HS2 GETS THE GREEN LIGHT?

Despite the ever-rising cost and the environmental damage it will cause, we are told that Grant Shapps and Boris Johnson may press ahead.

HS2’s costs are now predicted to be in excess of 100 billion pounds. HS2 Ltd has tried to justify the incredible costs by claiming the line will provide “a low carbon alternative to the car or plane”. But the Government’s own research tells us that’s simply not true: HS2 won’t be carbon neutral for at least 120 years.

For the government to give the go-ahead to a project that has such a vast and permanent environmental impact would be beyond madness and hypocrisy. It would be a catastrophe. Together we need to call out HS2’s grim environmental forecast and the insanity of giving HS2 to the green light in the fact of the climate emergency.

So if the Government decides to give the green light to the HS2 project, I will challenge that decision in Court: we have to stop the egregious environmental destruction that will take place.

I have taken legal advice and have a team of lawyers lined up. I need your help to take on this behemoth of HS2. Together let’s put an end to HS2 and an end to the eradication of our woodlands and wildlife.


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Please donate, please share this post, please share your photos, videos and experiences of HS2's continued destruction of our beautiful landscape and wildlife.

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Update 1

Chris Packham (StandfortheTrees.org)

March 2, 2020

Launch of legal challenge to Prime Minister’s HS2 go-ahead decision

Launch of legal challenge against Boris Johnson's approval of HS2 in wake of Heathrow Airport Judgement


On 11 February, Boris Johnson decided to give the go-ahead to Europe’s largest infrastructure project despite its severe negative impacts in a time of ecological and climate emergency. HS2 will damage or destroy almost 700 wildlife sites, including over 100 ancient woodlands. The climate impact of HS2 is incompatible with any Net Zero Emissions target and will allow the delivery of ever increasing numbers of air passengers outside of London, thereby enabling the large-scale expansion of airports instead of Heathrow. This 1 minute film explains things. 


Remarkably, Boris' approval of HS2 came just days after his launch of COP26 at the beginning of February, where he said: 


'Only by repairing the damage to the natural world and restoring the balance between humanity and nature - which is now so grotesquely out of kilter - that we can address the problems of climate change. And of course at the same time we have to deal with our CO2 emissions and that is why the UK is calling for us to get to Net Zero as soon as possible.'


Boris based his HS2 decision on the output of a review that we were all assured would be rigorous and independent, would consider all the existing evidence and the full range of the costs of the project. Having carefully considered the review process with my lawyers at Leigh Day, I believe that the review failed abysmally to meet the standards we were promised.


In the year of COP 26, it’s time for Boris to be held accountable. For now, we have won on Heathrow. The climate impact of HS2 is incompatible with any Net Zero Emissions target and will allow the large-scale expansion of airports instead of Heathrow.  We must not allow HS2 to be Boris’ fast-track to expanding aviation elsewhere in the UK.


We live in a time of absolute crisis. Our future and that of the planet upon which we live and depend is critically threatened. Therefore we look to our leaders not just for good, but for great governance. We ask for best informed decisions to be made in the terrifying face of a declared climate and environment emergency. Every important policy decision should now have the future of our environment at the forefront of its considerations. But in regard to the HS2 rail project, our government has failed. I believe the review central to the mandate to proceed was seriously flawed in its methods. I believe that essential submissions regarding environmental concerns were ignored by the review panel. As a consequence the Oakervee review is compromised, incomplete and flawed and thus the decision to proceed based upon it is unlawful. Today some of us are making a last stand for nature and the environment and we will not go quietly into any good night.


On Friday I instructed my lawyers to send a pre-action legal letter to the Prime Minister challenging his decision and calling on him to think again. Now more than ever, in this age of ecological catastrophe, please join me in taking a stand by helping to fund our legal case. Thank you.

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