No regrets for campaigner as she loses battle

DEFIANT BRT opponent Viv Morge, at one of the scheme's construction sites at Palmerston Drive, Palmerston Business Park, Fareham.    Picture: Allan Hutchings (103809-763)
DEFIANT BRT opponent Viv Morge, at one of the scheme's construction sites at Palmerston Drive, Palmerston Business Park, Fareham. Picture: Allan Hutchings (103809-763)
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A CAMPAIGNER who failed to stop a major bus scheme says she has no regrets about fighting the long legal battle which cost thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money.

Viv Morge has fought Hampshire County Council through the High Court, Appeal Court and Supreme Court over the right to protect bats living along the route between Gosport and Fareham.

Throughout, she has had her case part-funded through legal aid.

Neither Ms Morge, of Wych Lane, Gosport, nor her solicitors Swain and Co, would reveal how much it had cost taxpayers.

But she said she had no regrets in taking the action.

‘At the end of the day some people are going to hate the fact that I have done this, but I felt I had to do it,’ she said.

‘I don’t regret what I have done. I did it because I did it for a cause – who else was going to try and save the wildlife?’

As reported in The News, Law Lords at the Supreme Court this week ruled against Ms Morge’s appeal.

She claimed that Hampshire County Council had not taken the welfare of protected species into account before giving the go-ahead to the bus route.

Figures revealed through a Freedom of Information request last year showed that the council had already spent £120,000 fighting the appeals before it got to the Supreme Court. The bill for Ms Morge’s team could be for a similar amount.

Ms Morge added: ‘I have put a lot of my own money into this as well. I am not surprised at the court’s ruling though, but I still believe Hampshire County Council’s case is flawed and they know it.’

The Fareham to Gosport route is just phase one of a wider £500m project that is expected to improve links across the south of Hampshire over the next decade.

Phase one was due to be completed by the end of March but is now several months behind schedule.

The government gave £20m for the project and the county has earmarked almost £5m for it as well. Ms Morge said her solicitors are looking into the possibility of asking the European Commission to investigate the case.

She added: ‘Where planning for housing estates and roads crop up I hope councils and councillors take it on board that God’s creatures have a right to have their habitats anywhere they want.’