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Environmental legal challenge to HS2

30 March 2020

The past weeks have been defined by confused political messaging, in moves that make it quite clear that the dramatic increase in global communications channels definitly does not equate to more focused, clearer or even factually correct messages being communicated. One such confusion concerns the interrim works involving tree-felling now being carried out in the wake of the Government go-ahead for HS2. This comes in an era of climate emergency, and follows Boris Johnson's recent plea to restore 'the balance between humanity and nature'.

HS2 is in the legal spotlight again as broadcaster Chris Packham seeks an urgent injunction to immediately halt HS2’s destruction of ancient woodlands. Packham and other campaigners have suggested that construction teams are allegedly ignoring the government’s physical distancing rules for coronavirus and endangering local people by their hurry to fell trees. This comes in the same week that that Government published its Decarbonising Transport: Setting the Challenge report, and the recent decision to halt the expansion of Heathrow Airport due to environmental concerns.

The broadcaster’s £100,000 crowd-funded legal challenge includes requesting a judicial review of the government’s decision-making behind the £106bn high-speed railway and an interim injunction to stop “enabling” works scheduled to destroy swaths of five ancient woodland areas in April, reports The Guardian.

Says Packham: ‘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”.’

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