Within days of submitting his petition to parliament seeking to get HS2 construction stopped, naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham has secured nearly 40,000 signatures.
He needs 100,000 signatures for the petition to be considered for debate in parliament.
Opposition is particularly fierce in the Buckinghamshire area, which has already seen trees and vegetation cleared away for the new railway line.
The petition, launched on 3rd January, says: “We ask parliament to repeal the High Speed Rail Bills, 2016 and 2019, as MPs voted on misleading environmental, financial and timetable information provided by the Department of Transport and HS2 Ltd. It fails to address the conditions of the Paris Accord and costs have risen from £56bn to over £100bn.
“Our environment and economy are in peril. HS2 is destroying nature and inflicting suffering on businesses and property owners. Government is investing in an inept and recklessly run project, offering poor value for money. HS2 will not reach Net Zero by 2050 nor help us level up the north. The pandemic has changed how we work forever and invalidated the business case. Given the climate emergencies we face, and now the economic and pandemic crises, Parliament must vote to repeal the legislation.”
Mr Packham is supported by barrister Michael Mansfield, Iceland Foods boss Richard Walker and chartered surveyor Doug Thornton, who was previously land & property director at HS2 Ltd but has subsequently gone off the project, describing it as ‘fraud’.
Chris Packham said: “'In the face of our climate, environment and pandemic emergencies, our government and judiciary are failing us. Projects like HS2, Heathrow Airport's expansion and a vast new road building programme take us further away from where we need be, and time is rapidly running out. The world has changed dramatically since MPs voted on HS2 back in 2016. HS2 takes us further away from achieving Net Zero by 2050, it destroys a vast swathe of irreplaceable wildlife habitats and squanders a colossal amount of taxpayer's money on a business case that was bankrupt even before Covid, and that has now spiralled to double the cost MPs voted upon. Add to this our economic crisis, and we can see that MPs should be given the power to reconsider HS2 and vote again on whether this disaster project should continue, be rethought, or scrapped entirely.”
Doug Thornton said: “Having experienced the deceit HS2 used to obtain Royal Assent first-hand it has always been the proper thing, and entirely in the public interest, to speak of the fraud. Parliament was badly misled, and taxpayers’ funds are being badly abused by this rogue organisation. In the current economic crisis, or at any other time for that matter, taxpayers really do expect better.”
A spokesperson for HS2 Ltd said: “As the Divisional Court noted in its judgement on Chris Packham’s case in April, HS2 has been democratically approved by MPs with resounding majorities in Parliament on several occasions, with the approval of the extension from the West Midlands to Crewe expected early in 2021.
“The case for HS2 – more capacity on our railways, better connectivity in the Midlands and North, and cutting carbon in transport - all remain important issues for the UK. Crucially, HS2 is already playing a pivotal role in helping Britain’s post pandemic economic recovery. We have begun construction and there are 13,000 people already working on the project, with hundreds of thousands of additional jobs supported through our supply chain.”