This in from Wightlink, in their own words. Ed
The Lymington River Association has been refused permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal relating to a 2011 planning inquiry decision about Wightlink’s project to operate new ships between Lymington and Yarmouth, and associated berth works and habitat creation works at Lymington.
Five year legal battle
The hearing on Thursday 17 July was the latest legal step in a battle which has lasted almost five years, has cost Wightlink over £3.5m and has had an undisclosed burden on the UK taxpayer.
It stemmed from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government’s decision not to overturn the Planning Inspector’s decision of the 2011 Planning Inquiry. That Inquiry granted consent for Wightlink to undertake a project which comprised the operation of new ships between Lymington and Yarmouth, and associated berth works and habitat creation works at Lymington. Although the action was taken against the Secretary of State, Wightlink was a named interested party in this action, and this matter is therefore of great concern to Wightlink.
Judicial Review rejected
In 2013, the High Court refused to grant the LRA permission to apply for a Judicial Review of the Secretary of State’s decision. Later, the LRA applied in writing for permission to appeal against that refusal which was also refused. The hearing on 17 July was an oral repeat of that application.
John Burrows, Chief Operating Officer from Wightlink says:
“The LRA’s claims have now been considered and rejected by the Planning Inspector, the Secretary of State, the High Court (twice) and the Court of Appeal (twice). While we recognise the rights of individuals to challenge developments on environmental grounds, we believe this case has gone too far. It seems to us to be quite wrong that a small group of individuals should be able to impose such a costly legal burden on the UK taxpayer and on our company.”
“The claimant’s argument is wholly misconceived”
Lord Justice Sullivan when dismissing the application to appeal said
“the claimant’s argument is wholly misconceived, it’s a boot straps argument in that the claimant is trying to pull himself up by his bootstraps … with respect to the author the letter is a blatant attempt to sidestep the time limit in place.”
When the LRA’s QC at the end of the hearing sought to suggest that the proceedings might still be kept alive the Lord Justice replied:
“this case should not be kept alive, it should be given the death, in fact it should have been given the death a long time ago.”
Has cost Wightlink over £3.5m in fees
Mr Burrows adds;
“It is now more than five years since Wightlink introduced our new W-class ferries on our Yarmouth to Lymington route which have since transported more than 6.5 million passengers and nearly two million vehicles safely and efficiently across the Solent.
“We are very frustrated that we have had to pay more than £3.5m in external fees to defend our legitimate business operation. We hope that this matter will now draw to a close, and remove the uncertainty which it has created for our staff and customers.”