Day three in Road Sense’s Judicial Review against the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) ended up being short and sweet, as the advocate for the community-led group drew her case to a close. Final points were addressing the problems with European protected species, specifically Otters and Bats.
If the AWPR goes ahead as planned it will mean that several bat roosts, otter holts and couches will be destroyed, even though they are protected by a European law known as the Habitats regulations. In the UK it is possible to get a special licence to do this legally, so long as certain conditions are met and questions answered:-
- Will the conservation status of the species (including its range) be preserved?
- Is there must be imperative reasons of overriding public interest for the scheme?
- Is there no satisfactory alternative?
In the case of the AWPR, no one has questioned that the scheme will endanger these species, so the first question is satisfied. However, the second and third points remain – with the restricted remit of the public local inquiry these could not have been answered there, but at Judicial Review the question can be posed: did the Scottish Ministers look at these issues hard enough?
The case now continues with the advocate for the local organic farmers, who will be severely affected by the AWPR, taking centre stage… I’ll be back next week to follow this interesting hearing to the end!
Christina Byrne, Case Officer, Woods under Threat