Court of Appeal blocks Heysham link road challenge

Controversial plans for a new road linking the M6 motorway with the Lancashire port of Heysham look set to go ahead after an attempt by campaigners to block the development was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

McLoughlin: was accused, with county council, of failing properly to consult public or consider environmental factors
McLoughlin: was accused, with county council, of failing properly to consult public or consider environmental factors

Campaigners say the project is flawed and have accused the county council and transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, of failing properly to consult the public or consider environmental factors.
The group fighting the proposal fears the new road could have an impact on the unspoilt River Lune and Lune Valley and its otter population and launched legal challenges to the development.
Yesterday, in an appeal against a High Court judgment ruling in favour of the road, the case finally reached the Court of Appeal - and the end of the line when a senior judge rejected the arguments against the scheme.
Lord Justice Sullivan said the campaign group - Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM) - had no realistic prospect of convincing appeal judges that the development should be stopped.
The scheme has been on the county council's wish list for years and will include foot and cycle paths and 23 major structures, including bridges over the West Coast Mainline, canals and the River Lune.
In October, Mr Justice Turner, sitting at the High Court, rejected the campaigners' legal attack, saying it was not for a judge to 'micro-manage for perfection' or to second guess planners' decisions.
But yesterday, campaign barrister, Richard Turney, argued at the Court of Appeal in London that Mr Justice Turner's decision was wrong and should be overturned.
He questioned the reference of the judge to part of the 2008 Planning Act, which was introduced to "streamline" the process for schemes considered to be "nationally significant infrastructure projects".
Mr Turney questioned whether the scheme could fall within the category of "nationally significant".
"It is not a good reason to say something falls within the 2008 Act because it would benefit from streamlining, because the purpose of the Act is to streamline nationally significant projects," he told Lord Justice Sullivan.
"It would be an odd conclusion if every road that connected to a motorway would fall within the concept of 'nationally significant project'.
"In a way, this is a classic local authority scheme."
But the judge said that, although the scheme was designed with the local area in mind, it involved connecting with a motorway, managed by the Department of Transport, at a major junction.
"The alterations to the M6 junction are not only substantial, they are a vital part of what the judge rightly found was an overall scheme," he said.
"I can see no real prospect of the applicant being able to persuade the Court of Appeal that the conclusion was wrong."
The appeal bid was rejected.

David Gate of TSLM said: "Our case against the road remains strong, persuasive and reasonable.

"The legal system has failed the local community and common sense, and has failed to carry out its long term primary duty to check abuse on the part of central and local government."

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