High Court verdict on Newbury by-pass awaited

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Judgment was reserved in the High Court yesterday on whether construction of the A34 Newbury bypass should be halted to give protesters the opportunity to bring a legal challenge over the future of a rare snail which lives in areas on or near the proposed route.

In a two-day hearing, the Government was accused of "glaring irrationality" in failing properly to protect the snail's habitat from the bulldozers. Environmental groups and residents are seeking to block the decision to award Costain Civil Engineering the contract for the pounds 74m bypass, which has immediate effect, without properly considering the needs of Desmoulin's whorl snail.