DCO granted for Avon Gorge Metrowest Rail Project

DCO granted for Avon Gorge Metrowest Rail Project


CategoryNews Author Stephen Tromans KC Date

Stephen Tromans KC acted for the applicant for a development consent order for the Metrowest project, a strategic railway line connecting Portishead and Bristol, running in part along an existing track through the Avon Gorge, including priority habitats.  The DCO was issued by the Secretary of State on 14 November 2022 , following an earlier “minded to” letter.  Stephen’s role was predominantly in relation to the Habitats Regulations Assessment.  The case is notable because it provides an example of a successful application for derogation under the IROPI test, including detailed scrutiny of a compensation package.  The Secretary of State’s letter says:

9.2 The Development is not directly connected with, or necessary to, the management of a European site, and is likely to have a significant effect on the North Somerset and Mendip Bats SAC and the Avon Gorge Woodland SAC. The Secretary of State therefore carried out an appropriate assessment to determine whether there would be any adverse effects on the integrity of these European sites.

9.3 The Secretary of State concludes that when mitigation measures are taken into account, adverse effects on the integrity of the North Somerset and Mendip Bats SAC can be excluded. However, adverse effects on the integrity of the Avon Gorge Woodland SAC cannot be excluded.

9.4 The Secretary of State is satisfied that there are no alternative solutions that would fulfil the objectives of the Development and that there are imperative reasons of overriding public interest for the Development to be carried out. The Secretary of State is satisfied that the public benefits of the Development would over-ride the impacts to the Avon Gorge Woodland SAC, subject to the securing of compensatory measures.

9.5 Having considered the package of compensatory measures proposed by the Applicant and secured through the DCO, the Secretary of State concludes that all legal, financial and technical arrangements are in place and that monitoring will be in place to ensure the compensatory measures are delivered and are in place in the timescales needed. The Secretary of State is satisfied that the overall coherence of the national site network would be protected by the implementation of the compensatory measures.

9.6 The Secretary of State has therefore concluded, as competent authority for the purposes of the Habitats Regulations, that taking into account the package of compensatory measures it is permissible for him to give consent for the Development in spite of the adverse effects which it would have on the integrity of the Avon Gorge Woodland SAC.

The Decision and HRA are available here.


Related Barristers


Legal updates


Subscribe to our newsletters, updates and seminars.

Subscribe

Call +44 (0)20 7832 1111 for more information

Barrister portfolio

Close

Click the + icon next to any barrister to add their profile to this portfolio.

Barrister Call CV Email