Judicial review call for ferry service

By a County Press reporter

Published on Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - 13:49


A FRESH challenge to Wightlink's West Wight route has been launched by the Lymington River Association.

A spokeswoman for the ferry company said the Lymington River Association (LRA) was seeking a judicial review to challenge planning decisions surrounding the works associated with the Lymington/Yarmouth ferry service.

A planning inquiry was held in Lymington Town Hall last November, when a Planning Inspector approved Wightlink’s running of the larger W Class ferries, habitat works at Boiler Marsh and new berth works in Lymington.

The spokeswoman said: "The LRA’s lawyers failed to appeal the Planning Inspector’s November decision within the relevant six week period following it being made.  

"A request was then made that the Secretary of State reconsider that decision made on his behalf by the Planning Inspector and revoke the planning permissions that the Inspector granted on the basis they were incompatible with European law.  

"The Secretary of State decided not to reverse the Planning Inspector’s decision and accepted her finding that Wightlink’s project was not in breach of European Law because it was correct to consider Wightlink’s application under Article 6.3 rather than Article 6.4 of the Habitats Directive."

The spokeswoman added: "Now the LRA is claiming that the consequences of the Planning Inspector’s decisions were unlawful and is seeking a judicial review of the Secretary of State’s decision not to revoke the decision of his appointed planning inspector, notwithstanding the fact that it failed to act in time in respect of the original Inspector’s decision.

"This is a matter of considerable frustration to Wightlink’s primary aim in their desire is to operate a ferry service that meets the needs of the public and the Isle of Wight whilst having due regard to their role as a competent authority. 

"The uncertainty caused by this on-going action is a matter of considerable frustration to the company given the extensive examination the proposals have already received and which were approved in their entirety by the Inspector.

"The latest action brought by the LRA very largely repeats its previous arguments against the project, all of which were considered and dismissed by the Planning Inspector having considered all of  the evidence presented to her including that of Natural England (the statutory nature conservation adviser). 

"Notwithstanding this, the LRA, which its lawyer describes as "a concerned local group", is continuing to pursue its complaints about the project. 

"The LRA is a company limited by guarantee. Despite its corporate status, it is seeking a Protective Costs Order, exempting it from all legal costs arising from its activities believing that these should be borne by the public purse, despite the fact that its position has already been extensively considered and rejected by an expert Planning Inspector. 

"If it and its lawyers are not freed from any expense, they say the application for judicial review will not proceed."


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