Bigger Ferries in Lymington Unlawful

16 February 2010, 11:08 | Updated: 16 February 2010, 11:45

A decision to introduce new, bigger ferries on one of the routes to the Isle of Wight was unlawful, the High Court ruled today.

A judge declared the move by Wightlink relating to Yarmouth-Lymington ferries was a breach of the European habitats directive.

Mr Justice Owen, sitting in London, said Wightlink had failed to comply with its duties under the directive, which was initially "not fully and properly transposed into domestic law''.

The decision was a victory for the Lymington River Association (LRA), which brought the legal challenge after the new ferries were introduced in February 2009.

The LRA argued the bigger W-class ferries were harming protected mudflats and salt marshes rich in bird and marine life.

The judge said he recognised that, despite his ruling, the ferry service would continue to be operated with the new ferries, subject to certain measures. But the members of LRA were justified in pursuing their legal action in order to clarify the law, and the challenge was not an academic exercise.