Legal action over Scottish Executive decision to go ahead with M74

Groups opposed to the building of the M74 have said they will appeal against the Scottish Executive's decision to go ahead with the project despite an independent inquiry Reporter's report which recommended it be refused.

The groups, including Friends of the Earth and JAM74, have lodged their papers with the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The grounds for the appeal are that Ministers have failed to give adequate reasons where they disagreed with the inquiry’s conclusions.

The Executive had said that the road building project would bring regeneration and jobs, and that derelict and contaminated areas would be redeveloped.

However, opponents say the proposed road will create more traffic and pollution in one of the poorest areas in Scotland. Ironically, Lang Banks of Friends of the Earth Scotland told edie, one of the reasons that the area in question is so blighted is that it has faced the threat of having a road built through it for so many years.

In addition, protestors say, the strategy proposed by the Executive does not offer any remediation solution to the contamination in the soil. Instead of removing the contaminants such as hexavalent chromium waste, paper manufacturing sludge, steelworks slag and combustion residues, the road would simply contain them by sitting on top of the soil.

The independent inquiry also disputed the claims that jobs would be created. It found that most of this would come from the displacement of employment from other areas due to the disruption of the road building programme.

“The Executive seems determined to inflict massive disruption and environmental impacts on the people of Glasgow – for economic and traffic benefits that the Reporters judged limited and ephemeral. Ministers have the right to disagree with the Reporters, but the law says they must justify such a decision with cogent and substantial reasons. The law also requires them to offer a fair hearing to objectors. We do not believe this happened in this particular case,” said Duncan McLaren, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland.

“Despite the financial risks of taking legal action, we are determined to see justice done, and are confident that there are enough people who support our position to be able to successfully raise the funds needed to fight this action as far as necessary.”

The estimated cost of the M74 motorway at completion is between £375 and £500 million.

By David Hopkins

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