Chris Packham has joined forces with Dame Emma Thompson and Annie Lennox to warn of the “environmental disaster” they say will be caused by the HS2 rail line.
The Springwatch host has launched a short Christmas film called Stand For The Trees, which calls for HS2 to be scrapped and for the protection of 108 ancient woodlands along the line’s proposed route.
The film, directed by Ornette Spenceley, features music by Scottish singer Annie Lennox and a voice-over by Bafta-winning actress Dame Emma Thompson.
Set in Jones Hill Wood, the woodlands which inspired Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, it follows an eight-year-old boy who encounters HS2 workers clearing trees close to his home.
He decides to decorate one of the area’s ancient trees with a robin from his own Christmas tree, and soon the local community has followed suit and transformed the tree with their decorations.
Packham told the PA news agency: “The project is in no uncertain terms an environmental disaster across many parts of that spectrum.
“Please don’t think that we are saying we don’t want significant investment in different means of transport – we do. But this isn’t it.”
The environmental campaigner said endangered bats, butterflies and barn owls were facing what could be their “last Christmas” if the project is given the green light.
He said: “If this project gets the go ahead, and I sincerely hope that it doesn’t for so many reasons, you can expect ferocious public opposition to it, and I will be happy to lead that from the environmental perspective.”
Packham and Dame Emma have worked closely with Extinction Rebellion, with both taking part in April’s climate change protests in central London.
“Why do we continue to destroy nature… our precious life support system? Ancient woodlands have stood for hundreds of years and evolved to support whole eco-systems of their own,” Annie Lennox said.
“Destroying these irreplaceable trees is equivalent to demolishing National Trust properties to make way for shopping malls. That’s why I’m standing for the trees.”
Dame Emma Thompson criticised the HS2 project: “HS2 is and has always been an overpriced white elephant.
“Ours is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, so when we create new train lines they must avoid irreplaceable ancient woodlands. Nothing else makes sense. It’s time to stand for the trees.”
Lennox, Packham and Dame Emma are joined by a number of environmental organisations in demanding a rethink of HS2 to save over 100 ancient woodlands.
The film supports the #ReThinkHS2 campaign of leading environmental organisations including Client Earth, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, The Ramblers, RSPB, The Wildlife Trusts, The Woodland Trust and WWF.
More information is at www.standforthetrees.org and #ReThinkHS2.
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