At St Austell
Passengers on the Newquay branch were treated to a HST today following the failure of the usual 150.
43098, set GW15 and 43194 are seen picking their way through the vegetation on Goss Moor near Roche with the 2N03 09.17 Newquay - Par.
Kind Regards, Keith Barrow
We are writing to update you about the DCO decision and the PRG AGM.
As you may well have seen in the press, the DCO decision a couple of weeks ago didn’t give either a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ answer. Instead the Secretary of State extended by six months the statutory deadline to determine the DCO outcome. The reason for the extension is to allow further consideration of ‘environmental matters’. A written ministerial statement announced the extension and set a new deadline to determine the application by 19 April 2022.
This announcement was a complete surprise to everyone involved in the MetroWest project and very disappointing. The vague nature of the given reasons also caused serious alarm, so we have been working to find out more.
Liam Fox MP has raised the issue in Westminster and been told “There is no specific reason for the delay on environmental grounds and, indeed, it would be possible to go ahead with the DCO (development consent order) immediately except for one potentially serious factor.
Government advisers believe that there is a strong chance that environmental activist groups might seek a judicial review over the whole project on “environmental” grounds. While this may seem absurd given the clear benefits that the railway would bring ... It is entirely possible that they would object to any new transport project. The six-month delay that has been announced is to allow for a full environmental impact to be undertaken to the extent that the government believes it would be able to resist any calls for a judicial review.”
A judicial review would take between 12-20 months to resolve, so the current six-month delay, while unwelcome, looks like the least unacceptable way to proceed with the least chance of substantial delay to the opening of the Portishead line.
The first part of this work requires North Somerset Council to provide a further assessment of the impact of the scheme against a series of carbon budgets, by 23 November 2021.
That is all the information that anyone, as far as we know, has at the moment. We will continue to seek clarification about the consequences of all this for the Portishead line, but there seems little point in holding our AGM in the next few weeks, as there will no more information available beyond what you already have. We will rearrange the AGM for a date in 2022 once the situation becomes clearer.
Portishead Railway Group