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SURREY CC LOSE BATTLE AGAINST M25 WIDENING

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The Government today received High Court backing for the controversial stage-by-stage way it proposes to widen the ...
The Government today received High Court backing for the controversial stage-by-stage way it proposes to widen the M25 motorway. Surrey County Council asked a judge for permission to seek a Judicial Review, claiming Transport Secretary John McGregor's 'piecemeal approach' to the overall project was unlawful and prevented a balanced appraisal of its environmental impact.

Some sections will be increased to 14 lanes, making it the widest highway outside North America. The council wanted to apply for court orders quashing last July's decision to proceed with the first M25 widening scheme - the construction of paralell link roads along a seven-mile stretch between Junctions 12 and 15 with the motorway itself also being widened.

The council argued that the pnds sterling 144 million scheme could not be considered seperately from other plans in the pipeline for widening adjoining sections. It claimed the DoT had failed to show proper regard for European Law, the 1980 Highways Act and the Government's own design manual for roads and bridges.

But Mr Justice MacPherson ruled their case was not 'truly arguable'. He said the Government had given assurances that when a public inquiry into the scheme takes place next June environmental assessments would include present and potential problems in other sections to be widened, including between Junctions 10 to 12 and 15 to 21.

The judge said he would also 'kill' today's application for Judicial Review because it was 'premature'. He added: 'that is not to say I do not understand the fears and worries of those who live in the area where this monster development is to take place.'. He did not mean 'monster' to sound derogative but it was a major piece of road development which would not take place without the most careful scrutiny at the public inquiry by all those involved, including Mr McGregor.

Later, Mr Geoff Lamb, Surrey's Director of Highways and Transport, said it was likely that the council would appeal against today's ruling. The judge's statement on the manner in which the environment assessment would be conducted was 'of considerable reassurance to the county council and the people of Surrey', he added.

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