Court REFUSES Chris Packham's HS2 appeal

Blow for HS2 campaigners everywhere, including Aylesbury Vale

Friday, 31st July 2020, 4:46 pm
Updated Friday, 31st July 2020, 4:50 pm
This area of Wendover will be affected by HS2

The Court of Appeal has today refused Chris Packham's HS2 appeal.

The TV environmental and wildlife campaigner has entered an appeal after a previous attempt to force a judicial review of the Goverment's green light for HS2 was thrown out.

Speaking after the hearing Mr Packham said the case for HS2 should be revisited despite today’s disappointing ruling.

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The Bucks Herald has been leading the Enough Is Enough campaign

He maintains that the COVID-19 pandemic’s massive impact on public finances and the need for a green recovery (including a substantial change in attitudes towards home-working and remote business meetings) has undone the business and environmental case for HS2.

Mr Packham said: “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.

“COVID-19 has turned the state of the UK finances and the public’s attitudes towards climate change upside down.

“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.

This area of Wendover will be affected by HS2

“The HS2 project is not about the future, it’s about preserving a past which has now changed so radically since the pandemic.”

In a 51-page judgement handed down today, three Lord Justices of Appeal refused Mr Packham’s appeal against his earlier (6 April 2020) refusal of a judicial review.

Mr Packham had appealed on two grounds. The first concerned the question of whether the Cabinet was correctly advised on the existence and extent of environmental information before it when considering the report of the Oakervee Panel. Second, that the Government failed to take account of the effect of the project on greenhouse gas emissions and global temperature rise between now and 2050, in the light of its obligations under the Paris Agreement and the Climate Change Act 2008.

On the first ground, the judges ruled that the environmental impacts of HS2 had been assessed in detail through the Parliamentary process and the Cabinet’s decision-making could not have been made without proper regard to those conclusions.

On the second, the Court held that because the decision arising out of the Oakervee Review was not subject to any form of statutory scheme, the Government was at liberty to select the issues on which it was advised by the Review and that it was not constrained by the Climate Change Act 2008 or by any policy of its own. But in any event, the Court of Appeal held that it can be taken that the Government was fully aware of its commitments under the Paris Agreement and responsibilities under the Climate Change Act 2008 and to have taken those commitments and responsibilities into account.

The Divisional Court had also held that Mr Packham had not brought the claim promptly as it had been brought within six weeks and three days of the Cabinet decision in February 2020. The Court of Appeal overturned the lower Court’s judgment, ruling that the claim had been brought well within the three-month limit that lawfully applies in such cases.

The Bucks Herald has led the HS2: Enough Is Enough campaign and has called for an end to HS2, which will destroy homes, livlihoods and natural habitats in the Aylesbury Vale and beyond.

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