DCO Decision on Avon Gorge Rail Scheme

DCO Decision on Avon Gorge Rail Scheme

CategoryNews Author Stephen Tromans KC Date

The Secretary of State for Transport has issued a minded to decision in favour of a development consent order for a new rail scheme from Portishead to Bristol, running along track within the Avon Gorge.  The minded to letter accepts the recommendations of the Examining Authority in favour of the scheme, subject to the resolution of some issues on financing.  The project will relieve serious traffic congestion on the motorway and road network around Bristol.

The decision is notable because the proposed development would have possible adverse effects on the integrity of the special area of conservation through which the line would run, so that the strict tests of imperative reasons of overriding public interest (IROPI), no alternatives, and compensation had to be met.  It is a relatively rare example of the application of these tests. In particular the Secretary of State was satisfied that, for the reasons given in the Habitats Regulations Assessment, there is an imperative need to provide an alternative mode of travel between Portishead and Bristol, required to ameliorate the problems arising from the existing severe levels of traffic congestion along the A369, to accommodate future growth in the West of England sub-region and to deliver modal shift which is a key objective of national and local transport policy.

The minded to letter, Examining Authority report and other documentation can be viewed HERE

Stephen Tromans QC acted for the undertaker, instructed by Womble Bond Dickinson LLP, in advising on habitats and related matters and representing the undertaker at the relevant issue specific hearings.

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