15 August 2007
This afternoon at the High Court, Justice Collins turned down Transport 2000 and CPRE’s request to hold a judicial review into Dorset County Council’s granting of planning permission for the proposed Weymouth Relief Road.
Justice Collins decided there was no point in holding a judicial review because he felt a review would not affect the ultimate outcome, since the county council has the power to grant itself planning permission. He did say, though, that Transport 2000 and CPRE were "responsible claimants" and it was right to bring the issue to court, because the case was "in the public interest and in the interest of protecting the environment".
In recognition of this, he reduced Dorset County Council`s claim for costs from £22,000 to £3,500. He also added that he was surprised that Dorset County Council had granted itself planning permission, knowing the Government had just issued a direction preventing the council from doing so. He also commented that the council should have consulted the Regional Assembly before going ahead.
The two national environmental groups were represented at the hearing by the Friends of the Earth Rights and Justice Centre. The case was supported by the Woodland Trust, CPRE Dorset and Friends of the Earth.
Rebecca Lush, Transport 2000, said: "We are obviously disappointed that we will not be given the opportunity to air in court how policies to protect treasured landscapes have been ignored in the rush to bulldoze this road through. What is the point in creating policies and laws to protect the environment if we allow them to be trampled on? However the judge clearly recognised the public interest of this case. This does not mean the road will go ahead because the road scheme costs have increased dramatically, and there is no guarantee the Government will fund this increase. We will now prepare for the forthcoming public inquiry."