Alliance Against the
Birmingham Northern
Relief Road

 

JUDGE ORDERS DISCOVERY OF

SECRET BNRR DEAL

 

Today, the legal team representing residents in their fight to stop the Birmingham Northern Relief Road (BNRR) have been awarded discovery of significant parts of the secret Concession Agreement despite the private contractor's protestations to the Judge. This is a further victory for a group of Middle England residents in their long running legal challenge to the country's first private toll motorway. Delaying tactics and the contractors protests enhances the widely held view that there are embarrassing and potentially illegal clauses [1] within the agreement. The residents - known as the Alliance Against The BNRR [2] - wish to reveal any illegalities in order to quash John Prescott's decision to approve the controversial road [3].

 

On Tuesday 2 June, at 10am, Mr Justice Sullivan gave his ruling in the High Court. The Concession Agreement between the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) and Midland Expressway (MEL), permits the private contractor to build and charge tolls on the UK's biggest and most damaging road scheme. The DETR and MEL have been given 14 days to challenge the Judge's decision, or hand-over the document. The Judge has marked certain sections of the agreement that should not be disclosed. The Alliance's legal team can now study the agreement and make further submssions, before the Judge gives his final Judicial Review ruling in July as to whether the document should be made public. The Judge stated that the individual applicants should not be allowed to see the agreement at this stage.

 

This Judicial Review will establish case law that will have far reaching effects for many Private Finance Initiative (PFI) projects, of which the BNRR is a flagship. Should the residents win, it will stop the practice of secret private/public contracts being concocted: if they lose it will give a green light to governments to sign contracts that may be against the public interest or even illegal, but remain hidden from public scrutiny.

 

Charles Bradshaw-Smith, Chair Alliance Against The BNRR said

 "Today's decision gives us further confidence that we will win this case. We know the Department of Transport and Midland Expressway have got something to hide. I am disappointed that a Government which promised to put the environment at its very heart, continues to put private profit before public interest."

 

Gerald Kells, of Friends of the Earth said

 "The Government should scrap the pointless and damaging BNRR now. Had the BNRR been a public scheme it would have been cancelled long ago because it destroys communities and the environment without bringing the benefits its supporters say it will".

 

PRESS CONTACTS

Charles Bradshaw-Smith of the Alliance: 0836 647585 (day) or 01543 481422 (home)
Gerald Kells of FOE's West Midlands Transport Campaign: 01922 636601 / 0121 643 9117

 

Notes

  1. It was widely leaked by Labour ministers that they were forced to approve the BNRR despite their pre-election promises, due to high cancellation charges.
  2. Alliance Against The BNRR is a coalition of resident's organisations along the route of the BNRR whose aim is to stop the motorway being built. The Alliance has wide spread financial support
  3. for its legal challenge from residents, 11 councils and well-known environmental organisations.

  4. The 27-mile BNRR (the UK's first private toll road) is the largest and most controversial new road in the country. 27 miles of Green Belt will be destroyed; two Sites of Special Scientific Interest
  5. damaged; local jobs will be risked (4); motorists will join yet longer traffic queues as the West Midlands conurbation sees increased congestion; another opportunity to solve the region's traffic problems will be wasted by national and local leaders.

  6. A recent House of Commons SACTRA report (an independent committee of experts) warned that new roads in mature economies allow large external companies easy access to local markets thus reducing local jobs.

 

Full BNRR Briefing available on the Internet at: http://ds.dial.pipex.com/beep/bnrr/bnrlegal.htm

 

PRESS CONTACTS

Charles Bradshaw-Smith of the Alliance: 0836 647585 (day) or 01543 481422 (home)
Gerald Kells of Friends of the Earth West Midlands Transport Campaign: 01922 636601