On Friday 3rd April 2020, the Divisional Court (Coulson LJ and Holgate J) refused an urgent application for an interim injunction to restrain clearance works in 6 ancient woodlands affected by Phase One of HS2. The Court also refused the Claimant, Chris Packham CBE, permission to apply for judicial review of the Government’s decision to proceed with HS2, following the Oakervee Review, as announced by the Prime Minister on 11 February 2020.
The Court’s written reasons were provided on 6th April 2020, and are available on the Courts and Judiciary website.
The Court determined that the claim did not have a realistic prospect of success, and that, even if it had found to the contrary, it would have concluded that the balance of convenience favoured not granting the injunction.
On the application for permission, the Court set out detailed reasons why it considered each of the grounds of claim to be unarguable. The Court also highlighted the delay in commencing proceedings following the announcement of 11th February 2020, finding that the claim had not been brought “promptly”.
The Court found that “not even the irreversible damage and other harm upon which the Claimant relies could possibly justify the grant of the interim injunction sought”. In particular:
- The environmental impacts caused by the clearance works had been assessed through the Parliamentary proceedings, and the project found acceptable notwithstanding those impacts;
- The decision challenged by the Claimant was essentially a political decision as to whether the project should succeed (it was not, for example, a development consent);
- The effects of the delay which would be caused if the injunction was granted, since the works could not then be carried out before October 2020. They were on the critical path for construction for parts of phase 1, and so there would be a consequential delay to the enabling works, main works and the railway systems works.
- The implications which granting an injunction on this application would be likely to have for other sections of phase 1 of the HS2 programme.
Media coverage may be viewed here.