‘Nationally significant’ road to go ahead
Posted: 2nd December 2013
Controversial plans for a new road linking the M6 motorway with the Lancashire port of Heysham have been given the green light after the Court of Appeal confirmed that it had rightly been classified as a nationally significant infrastructure project and that the ‘streamlined' procedure laid down by the Planning Act 2008 had correctly been deployed.
Campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe argued that the plans were fundamentally flawed and accused the Secretary of State for Transport and the relevant local authority of failing properly to consult the public or consider environmental factors, particularly the impact on the unspoilt River Lune and Lune Valley and its otter population.
Those arguments did not persuade the High Court and, in rejecting the group’s appeal, the Court of Appeal noted that that major alterations to a junction of the M6 were a vital part of the overall scheme. Although the development was designed principally to bring local benefits, there was no realistic prospect of persuading the Court that it was not also of national significance.
The group had argued that it would be an ‘odd conclusion’ if every road scheme that connected to a motorway were to be viewed as nationally significant. However, the Court noted that the project had been on the local authority’s wish list for some years and would involve construction of extensive foot and cycle paths as well as 23 major structures, including bridges over the West Coast Mainline, canals and the River Lune.