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4 April: news in brief

Naturalist loses environmental challenge to HS2

THE High Court has rejected a legal challenge from naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham, who had claimed that the decision to build HS2 had not taken the destruction of ancient woodlands into account. The court ruled that there was ‘no real prospect of success’ for a judicial review, and refused to grant an emergency injunction. Mr Packham, who has described HS2 as a ‘vanity project’, was voted ‘Conservation Hero of the Year’ by readers of Birdwatch magazine in 2014 and has received many other honours and awards. The one-day hearing was told that ‘pausing’ HS2 to allow a full judicial review would have cost between £20 million and £25 million, and counsel for the transport secretary said that the cost would ‘come from the public purse. The court will not be seduced into treating that as an insignificant consideration.’ He also argued that Chris Packham and his supporters had been given plenty of opportunities to present arguments about HS2’s environmental effect while the railway was being scrutinised by Parliament before the enabling Act authorising Phase 1 received Royal Assent in 2017. After the hearing, Mr Packham said: ‘I’m immensely disappointed on behalf of all the wildlife that will now be destroyed in the next few weeks and the irreversible damage to the woodlands. These trees are going to come crashing to the ground and all the birds nesting in them and bats roosting in them are going to die and nobody is going to know anything about it.’

More trains to Stansted

GREATER ANGLIA is restoring an additional route from Monday, in contrast to more reductions in most timetables. Trains will run every two hours between Cambridge and Stansted Airport, where some flights are still operating. Greater Anglia and CrossCountry usually serve the route jointly, but they have agreed that Greater Anglia will provide all the trains between Cambridge and Stansted for the time being.

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