Today’s High Court decision against Berks Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) means the government can press ahead with its plans for a new Expressway between Oxford and Cambridge without looking at the potentially devastating impact their corridor selection may have on the environment and wildlife. The ability of government to get away with delivering a plan of this size without strategic environmental assessments and proper consultation shows that our planning system is broken.
BBOWT is taking advice on appealing the decision and making a reference on a key point of environmental law to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
BBOWT challenged the government for its failure to conduct a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA) – requirements under European law – before it chose a preferred corridor for the Expressway. This failure excluded key stakeholders, including expert ecologists, from the decision-making process, and the government chose the corridor that evidence shows to be the worst option for wildlife.