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​HS2 urgent interim injunction application to be heard by the High Court

High Court to hear application for an injunction to halt ongoing and proposed enabling and clearance works relating to HS2

Chris Packham

2 April 2020

A hearing to determine an application for an injunction to halt ongoing and proposed enabling and clearance works relating to HS2, for the duration of the legal proceedings, will be heard in the High Court on Friday 3rd April at 10.30am. The court will be sitting as a two-judge Divisional Court and the hearing will be conducted via Skype.

The injunction follows the announcement last Friday that Chris Packham CBE has issued proceedings to challenge the decision by the Secretary of State for Transport and the Prime Minister to go ahead with Phase 1 of HS2. 

Mr Packham, who is represented by law firm Leigh Day, has applied for the injunction to ensure that irreplaceable ancient woodlands are not destroyed before the lawfulness of the government’s decision to go ahead with HS2 can be determined by the courts. 

Leigh Day, on Mr Packham’s behalf, has today submitted further evidence to the High Court in support of the case from the RSPB and the Woodland Trust explaining the significance of the irreversible destruction of ancient woodlands planned for this weekend and the potential for unlawful damage and/or destruction of birds nests as well as disturbance. It is believed that HS2 Ltd contractors are due to begin cutting down trees in these ancient woodlands from 2.30pm on Friday.

Mr Packham was delighted that HS2 Ltd suspended all bat mitigation works at the ancient woodlands yesterday following a letter from Natural England raising concerns about potential irreversible effects that could take place before Friday’s injunction hearing.

Mr Packham said:
“Unbelievably in the midst of a human tragedy we are still orchestrating an environmental one. It beggars belief why construction work is continuing on the HS2 project, putting the safety of contractors, the police and protesters at risk. The contractors and protesters would be better off at home and the police focusing on their demanding duties at this very difficult time. And then there’s the ancient trees, the breeding birds, the bats, the butterflies - all the otherwise protected and sacred wildlife which is set to be destroyed. And all because our government has chosen to base its decision to proceed with this ludicrous vanity project based upon a compromised and flawed review. Tomorrow’s hearing represents a real opportunity to turn the tide in favour of not only the UK’s environmental future but also that of the world. Post Covid-19 we will want to get back to normal - a new normal where we seriously address our biodiversity loss and climate change. Projects like HS2 must be left behind, we need new ideas that will be healthy for everyone and everything.”

Mark Thomas, Head of Investigations for RSPB, said: 
"Very soon thousands of trees will be felled, trees that we believe will contain nesting birds. Some of these may be birds of conservation concern, such as the lesser spotted woodpecker. All active nests and eggs are fully protected by law from intentional damage or destruction and we are very concerned that, despite mitigation plans, nests will be destroyed. HS2Ltd need to understand this and stop this work immediately."

Woodland Trust CEO Dr Darren Moorcroft said:
“HS2 Ltd is attempting to move, or translocate, the ancient woodland soils to other sites in a flawed attempt to mitigate the loss of vital habitat. The Woodland Trust is calling on the work to be stopped because it goes against conservation principles and professional standards as there is very little evidence it works, and it should be done in autumn and winter to give it the best chance of success.

“These precious, irreplaceable ancient woodlands are bursting into life. Trees are in bud, flowers are blossoming, birds are nesting and badgers are active in their setts. For HS2 Ltd to be attempting translocation of soils which have lain undisturbed for centuries now instead of in the dormant seasons of autumn and winter is folly. Their disregard for conservation principles, for the environment, and for professional standards beggars belief. These works must be halted.”

Mr Packham is represented by Tom Short and Carol Day at law firm Leigh Day. 

Carol Day, solicitor at Leigh Day, said:
“Emergency injunction applications of this nature are very rare because the claimant can be required to make a financial undertaking to the Court, but our client felt he had no option but to try given the scale and significance of the loss and damage to irreplaceable wildlife habitats arising from HS2.”
 

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