ENVIRONMENTALIST Chris Packham has called on the government to reconsider ploughing ahead with its major HS2 rail project – despite losing a High Court challenge against the scheme.
Changing public attitudes towards home working, remote business meetings and public finances in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, should cause ministers to take another look at the viability and necessity of the multi-million-pound project, he said.
“Covid-19 has turned the state of the UK finances and the public’s attitudes towards climate change upside down,” said Mr Packham, who lives near Marchwood.
“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.
“The HS2 project is not about the future, it’s about preserving a past which has now changed so radically since the pandemic.”
HS2 is a controversial railway project to provide high-speed train routes linking London to cities including Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, and Mr Packham sought permission to launch a judicial review to stop work clearing ancient woodlands. However, judges knocked back the application.
Mr Packham applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to challenge the ruling under two counts, which failed in a 51-page ruling released late last week.
Carol Day, solicitor at Leigh Day, said the judgement was “very disappointing” and Mr Packham was considering launching another appeal.
The full judgement can be seen at www.judiciary.uk/judgments/r-on-the-application-of-christopher-packham-v-secretary-of-state-for-transport-2020/