Court rejects £20m bus scheme appeal

THE Supreme Court has thrown out an appeal against a controversial £20m bus scheme.

Campaigner Viv Morge had her case against the Bus Rapid Transit Scheme (BRT) between Fareham and Gosport heard by the Supreme Court last November.

Judges reserved their decision until this morning.

But they today ruled that Hampshire County Council was right in granting planning permission for the scheme.

The panel of law lords dismissed her appeal by four votes to one.

Ms Morge, of Wych Lane, Gosport, had wanted work on the project to stop as she believes it is harming endangered species that live along the old railway tracks, such as bats and badgers.

She claimed that the council did not take into account European law relating to the protected species when giving permission to the bus corridor.

Her solicitors said today that Ms Morge could still proceed with further appeals, including taking the case to Europe.

Hampshire County Council revealed earlier this month that opening the first phase of the project has already been delayed by several month because of the legal battles.

Hampshire's transport boss, Cllr Mel Kendal, said in a statement: 'We welcome the decision of the Supreme Court which confirms that the county council followed correct planning procedures.

'But more to the point, what I am really pleased about it is that we can now press ahead and complete this scheme to bring back a disused public transport route into modern use.

'BRT will give local people a viable public transport alternative in a very congested part of the county, at a time when increasing petrol prices are having a big impact on individual car use.

'We can now continue to forge ahead with our plans to deliver this innovative busway. We look forward to keeping everyone informed about construction progress and to working with bus operators to ensure a high quality bus service is soon up and running for local people.

'We have never faltered in our commitment to this scheme, and while I appreciate that change is sometimes difficult, the BRT route will bring benefits to a great many people in the future, providing public transport for employment and education travel for example, which is vital in these difficult economic times.'