04/10/13

Work on the Heysham to M6 Link Road moved a step closer today after the High Court rejected an application for a judicial review.

Campaigners against the link road, Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe (TSLM), had requested permission to apply for a judicial review to challenge the decision by the Secretary of State to grant planning permission for the project.

At a two-day hearing held in July, TSLM argued that there were five grounds for challenging the decision, all of which were resisted by the Secretary of State for Transport and the county council. The Judge today rejected all five grounds put forward for the challenge and refused TSLM permission to apply for a judicial review.

The Judge found that there was no arguable case that the decision to grant planning permission was unlawful. Moreover, the Judge went even further declaring that even if he had been persuaded the wrong procedure had been used to get permission for the scheme to go ahead (one of the five grounds of challenge) he would not have set aside the permission granted by the Secretary of State.

The Judge explained that the process followed by the county council was thorough and comprehensive and it is overwhelmingly likely that consent would have been given for the scheme regardless of the route by which it had been achieved.

The road has long been one of the county council's top priority transport schemes, with planning permission being awarded in March 2013 following a lengthy process that included a six month examination period with 3 weeks of public hearings.

Construction of the link road will herald the start of a new era for economic growth and better transport on the Morecambe and Heysham peninsula. The road is supported by the government who have agreed to invest £111m towards the cost with the county council funding the remainder.

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "The link road was given development consent because there's such a strong case for it in terms of value for money and the benefits to the economy and local transport it will bring.

"We've always been confident of the case for the road, which enjoys wide support from people and businesses in the area and I'm very happy that we are closer to getting on with the job. The M6 link will be an engine for economic growth for the whole region, it's always been more than just a road building scheme."

The road will connect the peninsula directly to the M6, providing better access to Morecambe and industrial areas which include the Port of Heysham and the Heysham power stations. It will also reduce congestion in the Lancaster area especially on Caton Road, Morecambe Road and the Greyhound and Skerton bridges.