Local campaign group Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe has lodged a legal challenge to the decision to approve the Heysham M6 Link Road.
The new road will connect the Heysham and Morecambe peninsula directly to the M6 and provide improved access for residents, businesses and tourists to the area. Lancashire County Council says that as well as easing congestion in and around Lancaster, the project will also deliver on a number of associated improvements, including a park and ride scheme with buses running into the city centre.
TSLM's challenge is based on five grounds, where legal advice is that the decision to give the project the green light was was wrong in law.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced on 19th March that he had granted approval for the Heysham M6 Link Road. His decision was based on the report from the Planning Inspectorate’s Peter Robottom, following the Examination in Lancaster Town Hall in the summer of last year.
“The decision was a great disappointment to opponents of this controversial project,” said David Gate, Chair of TSLM. “It is the wrong solution to the district’s transport problems. But we have sought legal advice, and that advice is that the decision is wrong in law, too. The consensus opinion is that there are five very substantial grounds on which the decision should be challenged, ranging from incorrect treatment of European nature conservation designations to the fact that the scheme is not and never was a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. These areas of concern call into question the legality of the decision made by the Transport Secretary.”
Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe s the local campaign Group which opposes the construction of the Heysham M6 Link Northern Route, and favours instead non-damaging sustainable transport solutions for the 21st century.
TSLM has already had many pledges of financial support for such a Review, and that support makes the challenge a viable one.
“There is still so much opposition to this damaging scheme.” said Mr Gate, “We owe it to the many people who have objected strongly to follow the legal advice we are receiving.”
TSLM is not undertaking the legal action lightly and is applying for an order to cap the amount of money it would have to pay if the case were lost.
David Gate concluded: “Judging by the reaction to the decision to go-ahead, there are thousands of people who find that decision perverse and ill-founded on transport, environmental and economic grounds. The decision should be tested, and our challenge will test it.”
The decision to give the greenlight the road project was welcomed by local business.
• TSLM web site: http://heyshamm6link.btck.co.uk
The grounds of the challenge are:
1) The scheme is not a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, under the Planning Act, so should not have been dealt with by IPC/NID.
2) Consultation was inadequate because Lancashire County Council ruled out discussion of the principle of the scheme and the route chosen.
3) National Policy Statements on Ports and Nuclear Power were used to justify the scheme, but were not relevant in the absence of any definite plans.
4) The Western Route was wrongly dismissed, without going through the appropriate procedures.
5) Lancashire County Council failed to carry out surveys of otters, a European Protected Species, as they were legally obliged to do, so failed to assess potential harm to them.