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What happens if SMBC dont do it by the book!!


What happens if SMBC dont do it by the book!!
10th April 2013 at 7:52AM
An intersting article from a community of residents in a similar position to us here in Hazel Grove and Poynton.

If as we know SMBC are way behind with environmental and traffic forecasting reports on the SEMMMS project, and are desperately trying to steamroller this through...all this could go against them.

The many supporters of the Alternative A5 Alliance welcome Mr Justice Stephens’s ruling (albeit with a seven day stay) to quash the DRD Minister’s decision to build a new dual carriageway running parallel with the present A5 and thereby providing the predominantly rural area with the luxury of six lanes of traffic from Newbuildings to Ballygawley. Thankfully, the decision based on a breach of the Habitats Directive and on the need to save the protected species including salmon in the Foyle and Finn Special Areas of Conservation, will also save 3000 acres of productive farmland, many businesses and permanent jobs, as well as sparing many householders the devastation that this unnecessary new dual carriageway would have caused.

The breach of the Habitats Directive affected a major part of the scheme and could not be ignored. Mr Justice Stephens has therefore refused to grant DRD its request for a stay so that it could belatedly undertake an assessment, even though the law requires such an assessment be carried out before the decision to proceed with the road is taken. He has allowed a limited 7 day stay in relation to any appeal to the Court of Appeal.

Quashing the decision means that the vested lands will be returned to their former owners, who now face the challenge of undoing all the damage caused by six months of preliminary works by Roads Service’s contractors. It means that last December’s undertaking to the Court to pay compensation for such damage must now be honoured and paid in full.

The AA5A maintains that this road, as conceived, was never truly in the public interest. It was promoted by politicians whose ambitions, aspirations and political compromises it served. Moreover, by pre-determining that the A5 had to be replaced by a dual carriageway, the politicians removed all discussions on the cost effectiveness and environmental impact of other alternative upgrades to the A5. This effectively neutered the Public Inquiry and left it with little to determine other than the exact route of the proposed new road. Public participation was effectively stifled.

We also maintain that the process contained many other serious and fatal flaws such as the low traffic figures for the route, the many inadequacies of the Agricultural Impact Assessments, the failure to assess the negative economic impacts upon the local community and the inappropriateness of conducting a Human Rights Impact Assessment long before the Public Inquiry even took place. Moreover, as there was no habitats assessment, then the Environmental Statement cannot be fit for purpose either.

The Court upheld our argument that the specification that the new road had to be a dual carriageway should have been subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment – another breach of European Environmental legal requirements. The Judge ruled this complaint out of time as we should have challenged the government on this point before the Public Inquiry took place, though he acknowledges that there we ‘may have faced difficulties’. In view of our limited funds such an expectation of a group of ordinary people seems high indeed. It is surely for the Government to comply with its obligations and, with constant access to legal advice at public expense, it should have known what these requirements were. Furthermore, if a Strategic Environmental Assessment was required, then, regardless of time limits for a challenge, the Minister should not have given the scheme the go head in its absence.

This was a road scheme that would have done far more harm than good but it was left to ordinary citizens to fight a High Court battle to prove that. When in November 2011 the RoI reneged on its commitment to pay half the cost of this unnecessary new road, the DRD decided, nonetheless, to press on with its plan. It did so with no further consultation or meaningful re appraisal of the damage the scheme would do to both the local economy and the environment, including Special Areas of Conservation. This was despite the obvious fact that a partial scheme could not and would not deliver the benefits the Department claimed for the scheme at the Public Inquiry some months earlier. There was no consideration of the long term adverse impact on local businesses including farm businesses or of the indirect adverse consequences for the rest of the rural community. There was no concern for the householders whose homes would be devalued or for the local people who would be forced to make detours and longer daily journeys as their local road was now closed. Indeed the DRD saw the increased expenditure on fuel as a cost benefit of the scheme as it meant more fuel tax for the government.

Is it too much to hope that Roads Service will now focus on upgrading the existing A5 in line with previously declared Roads Service Policy, so as to deliver improvements to this road that are needed but in a way that is affordable and not unnecessarily destructive of our environment, livelihoods and community? If the Department seeks to waste more tax payers’ money on promoting this scheme, we will continue to oppose it.

Six months of Preliminary Works on Sections 1 and 3 have caused a lot of avoidable and needless damage to farmland, hedgerows and trees despite the protests of landowners. They have been rightly promised compensation but this could have been an entirely avoidable public expense. Moreover, it is as impossible to compensate for the loss of mature trees which cannot be readily replaced as it is impossible to compensate for the stress and ill health suffered by those directly affected by this scheme.

So, now land owners will have to argue for compensation to help restore their land to its former state and level of productivity, all because a government Department refused to suspend work until the outcome of the legal challenge was known - as we argued in Court last December. This unpleasant and unjust situation stems from the unsatisfactory Compulsory Purchase Laws which continuously put ordinary citizens at a disadvantage – deluging them with unfamiliar reports and papers with overly short time scales to read, absorb and react to same but with no financial assistance to help cope with the Public Inquiry process. These same processes allow our Government to take over private property without agreeing a fair price in advance or paying before taking possession. This is why its victims feel compulsory purchase is more like confiscation. Since September 2012 Roads Service has constantly asserted its legal ownership of the vested land without paying most of the landowners a penny for it; has carried out extensive and damaging preliminary works on land that has been owned by the same family for generations; has behaved as if the legal challenge was a minor irritant and doomed to failure. Indeed we have recently learnt that Roads Service thought so little of our Court challenge that it has paid over £750,000 of public funds in compensation to a small number of owners. So we have many reasons to feel vindicated and relieved to hear that Mr Justice Stephens has quashed the Minister’s decision.

We would like to thank our legal team for their dedicated and tireless pursuit of this case on our behalf and in particular Greg Jones QC for his advice and expert presentation of our arguments to the Court. We also commend our solicitor, Roger Watts of C & J Black for his diligence on our behalf, his patience with our queries and his commitment to our cause.
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Re: What happens if SMBC dont do it by the book!!
10th April 2013 at 9:25AM
I heared on the news the other day   that there is a test case to mount a legal challenge for the Preston bypass . This is to do with Pollution levels etc .

Interesting to see how this develops

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Re: What happens if SMBC dont do it by the book!!
10th April 2013 at 7:30PM
Sorry Ian I might be a bit thick but I'm not sure what you are actually saying....Has the idea of building a new road been scraped.
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Re: What happens if SMBC dont do it by the book!!
11th April 2013 at 12:43AM, Edit: 11th April 2013 at 12:58AM by Norma_Stitts
Don't worry Serenity. He isn't saying ANYTHING. As per usual he is just copy/pasting someone elses bin fodder onto another part of the Internet.

I look forward to the day when he compiles his own thoughts and opinions but I doubt that they will be forthcoming. Even when he copy/pastes things then gets a reply that doesn't sit in line with his agenda he ignores it (see his 'pollution stats' getting blown out of the water previously.)

I look forward to this road, not only from a sensible viewpoint of the economy/infrastructure/evolution etc but so this section of the forum and those that ignored the property searches will vanish.

EDIT: As I initially pointed out when the copy/paste master first started a thread about the 'Supreme Court' I asked if he would paste the outcome if it didn't suit his agenda? Anyway, it didn't as they reserved judgement. Strange that he wasn't copy/pasting that all over the Internet, eh?...http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21691784
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Re: What happens if SMBC dont do it by the book!!
11th April 2013 at 1:30PM
Norma   your doing it again

Ian - dont be intimidated
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