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Chris Packham given permission to appeal in HS2 legal challenge

The Court of Appeal has agreed to hear broadcaster Chris Packham’s appeal regarding an application for permission for judicial review of the Prime Minister’s decision to proceed with the HS2 railway project.

Lord Justice Lewison held that the matter was of “considerable public interest” and ordered that a rolled-up hearing be listed before mid-July in light of the fact that further works by HS2 Ltd and its contractors are scheduled to take place.

The hearing has been listed for 8 July 2020.

Lord Justice Coulson and Mr Justice Holgate ruled in April that Mr Packham’s application for permission to apply for judicial review must be refused and there was no justification for the grant of any interim injunction to prevent the carrying out of clearance works in six different woodlands, most but not all of which are in Buckinghamshire.

Law firm Leigh Day, which is acting for Mr Packham, said his appeal focused on two grounds both concerning alleged failings in the way in which the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary reached their decision to give the HS2 project the go-ahead.

“First, Mr Packham contends that the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary were told (and so would have proceeded from an understanding) that the Oakervee Report set out a sufficient account of environmental impacts for the purpose of their decision to go ahead with HS2, when in fact it had not done so,” it said.

“Second, Mr Packham argues that the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary failed to have regard to the implications of the Paris Agreement when they took the decision. The Paris Agreement requires a restriction on the global increase in temperature by 2050. Any addition in emissions between now and 2050 will negatively impact on such temperature increases and thereby on the commitments made under the Paris Agreement.”

Leigh Day said it was Mr Packham’s case that in fact the Prime Minister and Transport Secretary were not told this and so they failed to take into account the implications of the Paris Agreement, particularly as regards the increase in carbon emissions during the construction period of HS2 (which predates 2050).

The firm added that the construction emissions from HS2 would further undermine the Secretary of State’s duty to meet the UK’s five-yearly carbon budgets (under section 4(1)(b) of the Climate Change Act 2008). Mr Packham’s appeal contends that the PM and Secretary of State were not informed about this issue before making their decision to go ahead.

Tom Short, solicitor at law firm Leigh Day, said: “Our client is encouraged by the Court of Appeal’s decision to hear his case and its recognition of the considerable public interest in the matter. He was disappointed by the lower court’s decision and welcomes the scrutiny of environmental concerns around the HS2 project that a hearing in the Court of Appeal will bring, including in respect of climate change considerations.”

Mr Packham is represented by solicitors Tom Short and Carol Day, and paralegals Lewis Hadler and Rhiannon Adam, at law firm Leigh Day. Counsel for Mr Packham are David Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers, and Merrow Golden of Francis Taylor Building.

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