March 28, 2024

A12 widening Development Consent Order: legal challenge update

Plans to widen the A12 (Chelmsford to A120) have been stalled as a result of a legal challenge to the Secretary of State’s decision to make a Development Consent Order (‘DCO’) for this £1.2bn scheme.

Holmes & Hills LLP have seen a copy of the claim form and its supporting statement of facts and grounds (‘SoFG’) and can report as follows.

  • A claim for Judicial Review was issued on 26 February 2024.
  • The claim form incorrectly states the Defendant as the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities - the SoFG correctly identifies the Defendant as the Secretary of State for Transport however.
  • National Highways are the Interested Party.
  • There are five grounds of challenge which can be summarised as follows:
    • Ground 1: alleged breach of the EIA Regulations by reason of an unlawful and/or irrational conclusion on the “significance” of greenhouse gas emissions for EIA purposes.
    • Ground 2: a misinterpretation as to applicable policy.
    • Ground 3: alleged breach of the EIA Regulations by failure to carry out a lawful cumulative assessment.
    • Ground 4: an alleged failure to consider whether the Scheme would have a material impact on the Government’s ability to reduce emissions by at least 68% by 2030.
    • Ground 5: an alleged failure to consider whether the Scheme would have a material impact on the Government’s ability to achieve “Net Zero’’ Target by 2050.
  • The claim asks for the DCO to be quashed.

It is not yet known whether an acknowledgement of service and/or summary grounds of resistance to the claim have yet been filed – the standard timetable/deadline for which is 21 days after service of the claim form. We would anticipate an update from the Secretary of State and/or National Highways at an appropriate time.

It is understood that pending Court proceedings concerning the A47 Blofield and North Burlingham Scheme ‘A47BNB’ concern similar issues. Elsewhere, two other climate-focused legal challenges are likewise awaiting a decision. It may well be the case that the A12 legal challenge is “held up” until after a decision in these other legal proceedings/challenges.

Holmes and Hills LLP will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates directly to affected clients and via our website as appropriate. In the meantime the construction schedule for this scheme will undoubtedly be subject of delay whilst the application for Judicial Review of the DCO works its way through legal process.

If you are affected by the A12 widening proposals and need advice on your current options, please do not hesitate to contact one of our dedicated team of specialist CPO solicitors, Michael Harman, Catherine Hibbert or Mel Francis.

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