Broadcaster Chris Packham is challenging the Government’s decision to back HS2 following the Oakervee review, arguing that it will have severe negative ecological and climate impacts.
Mr Packham (pictured) argues that as well as damaging or destroying almost 700 wildlife sites, the climate impact of HS2 is expected to be incompatible with any net zero emissions target, ‘not least because the line will facilitate the large-scale expansion of airports across the UK’.
Law firm Leigh Day has sent a pre-action protocol letter on behalf of Mr Packham, arguing that the decision was unlawful because it relied on the ‘flawed process’ of the Oakervee review and did not take into account the full environmental costs of the project.
Mr Packham said: ‘Our future and that of the planet upon which we live and depend is critically threatened. Therefore, we look to our leaders not just for good, but for great governance. We ask for best informed decisions to be made in the terrifying face of a declared climate and environment emergency. Every important policy decision should now have the future of our environment at the forefront of its considerations.
‘But in regard to the HS2 rail project I believe our government has failed. I believe that essential submissions regarding environmental concerns were ignored by the review panel. As a consequence, the Oakervee review is compromised, incomplete and flawed and thus the decision to proceed based upon it is unlawful.'
According to Mr Packham, the report of the Oakervee review failed to adequately provide a thorough assessment of the issues, including the environmental costs of construction and of climate change.
His lawyers pointed out that sections of the report dealing with environmental impacts concluded that the climate change impact of HS2 is likely to be close to carbon neutral it failed to quantify and address the full impact of emissions arising from HS2’s construction and operation.
Mr Packham argues that prime minister Boris Johnson’s decision relies on the mistaken understanding that the Oakervee report had taken carbon emission impacts into account, such as the facilitation of airport growth and expansion outside of London.
They added that it has also been suggested that the final report may have been influenced by Mr Oakervee and officials from the Department for Transport following the conclusion of the formal review process in November 2019.
Mr Packham is represented by Carol Day and Tom Short of Leigh Day solicitors.