Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) lose High Court challenge

Wetlands could be destroyed is the plans go ahead
Wetlands could be destroyed is the plans go ahead

The High Court has refused permission for BBOWT to challenge the government regarding environmental concerns of the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway.

In November 2018, the Trust issued a claim in the High Court, challenging the government’s failure to commission a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) or a Habitats

Regulation Assessment (HRA) as part of the process of selecting a ‘Growth Corridor’ within which the Expressway and associated housing will be built.

In response to the High Court decision, Matthew Stanton, head of planning, policy and advocacy with BBOWT, said: ‘We do not regard this as the end of the legal process, and we will apply for the court to revisit this decision at an oral hearing.

"We are resolute in our determination to protect wildlife from the impact of the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway. A Strategic Environmental Assessment is required under European law for schemes that impact on the environment such as this.

"This means the true environmental impact has not been properly considered, and the public has been denied the opportunity to fully scrutinise the implications of the scheme. The government has committed to leave the environment in a better state than they found it, but it is unclear how the Expressway and its potential impact on protected habitats is compatible with this ambition."

BBOWT will now speak to lawyers to determine their next steps.

Tessa Gregory, partner at Leigh Day, said: "We are disappointed that the paper application for permission for judicial review was not granted, but that is not the end of the process. We will now renew the application for permission to be heard at an oral hearing, where the grounds can be argued in front of a judge and we hope the decision will be overturned."

The plans could see up to one million new homes built along the corridor which could destroy wetlands saved during the construction of the M40.

BBOWT have set up a Virgin MoneyGiving page to pay for the legal fight which has so far raised £33,000.