Campaigners lose eco-town legal challenge

Campaigners today lost their High Court challenge over the Government's eco-towns project, but vowed to carry on their protest.

A judge rejected their complaint that there had been a failure to consult the public properly over the policy to build "environmentally-friendly" towns to meet housing shortages.

Mr Justice Walker, sitting at the High Court in London, stressed the project was "at a relatively early stage" and there would be future opportunities for consultation.

He ruled the Government had not followed unlawful procedures or attempted to "outflank" the planning system. He also rejected accusations that it had proceeded with "a closed mind".

The failed legal challenge was spearheaded by the Better Accessible Responsible Development (Bard) campaign, which is opposed to 6,000 new homes being built near Long Marston, Warwickshire, 10 miles south of Stratford-upon-Avon.

The group, formed by residents from across Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, believe the scheme could cause "irreparable damage to this beautiful part of middle England".

Bard was joined in the application for judicial review by Weston Front, a group fighting proposals for the Weston Otmoor eco-town in Oxfordshire where there are plans for 15,000 new homes. Their counsel described the plans as "a ghastly shadow" hanging over their lives.

A third pressure group, CASCET, which is against plans for the Pennbury eco-town in Leicestershire, put forward formal submissions to the High Court in support of Bard's application.

The Government announced a shortlist of potential sites last April in its consultation document Eco-Towns: Living A Greener Future.

But the protesters said the consultation process conducted so far "was bound to inspire cynicism and concern" and there should be fuller consideration of the views of local residents, including on whether eco-towns were in principle the best way to tackle housing shortages.

David Bliss, chairman of the Bard campaign, said after the ruling: "We are disappointed but this is by no means the end of the road for Bard's challenges to the Middle Quinton proposal.

"Labelling objectors Nimbies (Not in My Back Yard) is a lazy government response to a well thought out opposition to the current eco-town programme.

"No less than 47 national, regional and local representative bodies agree that poorly-sited new towns will neither meet their promised eco-agenda nor provide affordable housing in places where people want to live."

Mr Bliss added: "Our principle remains compelling - local people deserve to be properly consulted on government policies that directly impact them.

"Contrary to government assertions, we care deeply both about the environment and our communities.

"Experience from Europe suggests that the way to success is developing eco-quarters as part of urban extensions rather than building new towns in isolated rural spots and expecting them to be environmentally friendly solutions to the housing demand."

Mr Bliss said: "In short, poorly-sited eco-towns will lead to soulless commuter-based dormitory towns becoming expensive white elephants of the future. We do not intend to stand by and watch this happen.

"Despite today's ruling we hope the government will listen to local people and their democratically elected representatives before progressing with the programme."



Housing Minister Margaret Beckett welcomed the court's ruling.

She described eco-towns as "a unique opportunity to deliver much-needed affordable housing, built in a way which, by incorporating the very latest energy-saving techniques, benefits both residents and the wider community".

Ms Beckett said: "I am pleased the judge has recognised the Government has acted properly and dismissed the review on all grounds.

"Several local authorities are working with us on potential eco-towns and our second consultation, on both the shortlist of locations and our proposed standards, remains open.

"Once we have identified a final shortlist of potential locations, developers will need to go through the local planning process - giving people a third opportunity to have their say."

News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Sport
world cup 2014A history of the third-place play-offs
News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice