Newbury court case begins

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The Independent Online
A court case centred on a tiny snail, which could delay construction of the pounds 18m Newbury bypass, opened yesterday. A coalition of leading environmental groups is seeking a judicial review in the High Court over the way in which the Government is applying EU conservation laws to the rare, bog-dwelling Desmoulin's whorl snail.

Two small areas which will be damaged or obliterated by the bypass are prime habitat for this species. The Government's wildlife advisers have proposed designating these sites as nature reserves under the EU's Habitats Directive. The Department of the Environment says that while it wants to see public consultation, the bypass will still go ahead, with adjustments and compensatory works to make it more snail-friendly. Nicholas Schoon