ANTI-ROAD CAMPAIGNERS are set to halt plans for the UK's first directly tolled motorway with a second legal challenge this week.
The Alliance Against Birmingham Northern Relief Road is expected to submit a quashing order to the High Court today (Thursday) which challenges the legality of Orders made by the Secretary of State. Law firm Leigh Day claimed that the move is likely to stall progress on the project for several months.
Solicitor Richard Stein refused to disclose the basis of the action but, hinting at what is involved, said: 'The government has misunderstood its powers of duties and has not done things that it should have done. We are getting away from the technical detail and looking into the principles which have been applied.'
A source close to the campaign warned that if the challenge is successful 'at least one aspect' of the action would necessitate major changes to the 43km scheme and, he claimed 'could make the road unprofitable for Midland Expressway'.
Midland Expressway managing director Tom Smith said that he had expected the challenge but was confident it would not succeed. 'The legal challenges will delay the project but I do not believe they will stop the road. It has been through a 15 month public inquiry, and if it has to go through more legal hoops I'm sure it will without any problems,' he said.
Under statutory procedures, the Orders, which authorise the line of the road, the charging of tolls and the acquisition of land, are open to challenge until 3 April (NCE 19 February).
In a separate legal action the Alliance is awaiting a judicial review at the end of April to get sight of Midland Expressway's 53 year concession agreement. If that action is successful the Alliance will try to show that the concession contains illegal punitive charge clauses against cancellation of the road.