AN EIGHT-year battle to stop two service stations being built on the M42 has gone in favour of campaigners.
The government turned down plans to build the stations near Catherine-de-Barnes and Solihull Council has welcomed the dismissal.
Having pledged to protect the green belt in the borough, the authority has consistently opposed the proposed developments over the past decade through two public inquiries.
Councillor Stuart Davis, chairman of the planning sub-committee, said: “Obviously we are pleased that the inspector has supported our views that these were totally unsuitable locations.”
But it was clear that victory had come at a price. “It is a great pity that around £1 million of taxpayers’ money has had to be spent defending our green belt.”
Catherine-de-Barnes residents were extremely concerned about the plans but Russell Hogg, chairman of their association said it was a huge relief to receive the good news.
“If the developers knew that they would have to pay the costs if they lost their case they might have thought twice about putting forward such unpopular schemes.
“There must be something wrong with the system if it takes as long as eight years to determine a planning matter of this kind.”
Solihull resident Maggie Throup, who is also prospective parliament candidate for the borough, set up the Say No Action Group (SNAG) in 2001 to fight it.
And she admitted although it was a long, hard-fought battle they never once gave up.
“We have saved a huge swathe of green belt in the Meriden Gap as well as protecting the local environment from noise and air pollution. We always argued that a motorway service station wasn’t needed and would make this stretch even more dangerous.”
The two applicants have six weeks to launch a High Court challenge.