UPDATED: Chris Packham to appeal after HS2 halt bid refused

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Chris Packham
Chris Packham is appealing the High Court decision

NEW Forest TV presenter Chris Packham has refused to concede defeat in his battle to stop the government’s HS2 rail project.

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The environmental campaigner, who has a house near Marchwood, went to the High Court seeking permission to launch a judicial review against the major project which would stop work to clear ancient woodlands. However, judges knocked back the application.

Now Mr Packham (pictured) and law firm Leigh Day have applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to challenge the ruling.

“Despite the devastating dismissal of our case by the High Court I am determined not to give up. In these times of climate and environmental emergency, resilience is key,” Mr Packham said.

“Now is not the time to give up, now is the time to muster and protect what we have left. It is heartbreaking we were not able to stop the clearance works that have already begun on this project.”

HS2 is a highly controversial railway project to provide high-speed train routes linking London to cities including Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

Although the initial projected cost of it has spiralled and criticism has been levelled against the scheme, Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently opted to press on with it.

Mr Packham claims the clearance work will cause irreversible destruction of ancient woodlands which were irreplaceable and provide habitats for many species.

He is supported by the RSPB and the Woodlands Trust, and also argues the decision to allow HS2 to proceed was unlawful because it was made on the basis of the findings and recommendations of the Oakervee Review.

That warned of “serious consequences” for UK industry and infrastructure if HS2 was cancelled.

Mr Packham continued: “The [clearance] works are completely irreversible. Yet still we fight on, as we must try to protect all the other precious flora and fauna which is at risk from the HS2 project.

“I deeply believe that I still have a strong case against this ludicrously environmentally damaging project and I will argue in my appeal that the High Court judgement missed key points which still need to be answered.”

Leigh Day said the appeal will argue the High Court misunderstood grounds of his case that relate to consideration of environmental impacts and of the implications of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change on the project.

Carol Day, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, added: “Mr Packham believes that if the government is determined to proceed with this costly and damaging project, it must be on the basis of a full and proper understanding of the environmental impacts.

“Now more than ever it should be recognised that meeting our international environmental obligations has a vital part to play in protecting nature and human health.”

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