Chris Packham considering legal challenge following decision to proceed with HS2
Broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham is considering legal action following the Prime Minister’s decision to proceed with HS2.
In response to the announcement in the House of Commons, Mr Packham has instructed his lawyers at Leigh Day to advise on the legality of the decision to give the go-ahead to Europe’s largest infrastructure project despite the massive environmental damage it will cause.
Serious concerns have been raised about the project, including by Lord Berkeley, the Deputy Chair of Douglas Oakervee’s review of the HS2 project, which was commissioned by Boris Johnson.
Lord Berkeley found that the Oakervee review was rushed, lacked independence, demonstrated a bias towards accepting HS2’s evidence, failed to report objectively, and misled Parliament on the soaring costs of the project.
It has been widely reported that the original cost-benefits analysis is inaccurate with current estimates of completing HS2 in the region of £100-150 billion.
Alongside the Prime Minister’s announcement, the Oakervee review report has been made public for the first time.
According to Mr Packham, HS2 would be the UK’s largest deforestation project since the First World War. A recent report by the Wildlife Trust details the impact it considers HS2 will have on UK wildlife, habitats and biodiversity. This includes the loss of 108 ancient woodlands, 693 local wildlife sites, 33 sites of special scientific interest, and rare and endangered species.
Mr Packham is concerned not only that the alleged benefits of the high-speed railway do not outweigh the enormous environmental harm it will cause, but also that the original assumption that it would provide a low carbon transport solution is now known not to be achievable. Updated predictions show that the enormous energy required to construct the high-speed line mean the project will not be carbon-neutral for at least 120 years.
Mr Packham has said he will work with his lawyers at Leigh Day to examine the Prime Minister’s decision and its implications. He is currently crowdfunding for a potential challenge. Chris is represented by Carol Day and Tom Short, solicitors at the law firm Leigh Day.
Commenting, Chris Packham said: “Like many others who have woken up to the fact that our species and the health of our planet are in terrifying jeopardy, I am extremely disappointed that the government has decided to progress with this hugely environmentally damaging project.
"It reveals a flagrant disregard for our predicament, for the needs to address their declared climate and environment emergency and for the habitats and wildlife of the UK which are already under such significant pressure. It’s wrong thinking and history will not look kindly on those who have orchestrated this decision. A decision that I, that we, will fight peacefully, democratically and legally to reverse for the benefit of future generations and for all life on earth. We are in a last stand scenario, and I will not go gently into our good night.”
Tom Short, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, said:
“The Oakervee review was intended to consider the full costs and benefits of HS2 but it is clear from the report published on Tuesday that it failed to take into account the full environmental implications of the project. Our client is deeply concerned that, in the midst of a climate and biodiversity crisis and just months before the UK is due to host COP 26, the Prime Minister has given the go-ahead to a project on this scale without proper consideration to its environmental impacts. We are looking closely at the basis of the decision and potential grounds of challenge on behalf of our client.”
Chris is fundraising for his case at: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/rethinkhs2/