Velindre Cancer Centre campaigners vow to ‘never give up’ after judicial review rejection upheld
Campaigners against siting the new Velindre Cancer Centre on Cardiff’s northern meadows have vowed to “never give up” after a High Court judge has upheld a decision to refuse a judicial review into the plans.
Campaigner Catherine Lewis’ request for a judicial review into the plans had previously been rejected on 21 September, and she had been told to pay more than £46,000 in legal costs.
But today a High Court judge decided to uphold the decision to refuse a judicial review into the new cancer centre.
Campaigners said the decision represented a “failure of the legal system to hold the Welsh Labour Government accountable for decisions which are not in the best interest of the public, the climate, or future generations.”
“The decision shows how weak Welsh environmental law really is,” they said. “It shows that politicians – regardless of the Environment (Wales) Act and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act – will not be held accountable or responsible for environmental destruction, and do not have to consider sustainable development in all they do.
“Regardless of what Mark Drakeford told world leaders at COP26, the Welsh Labour Government is not a leader on climate. In fact, their policies amount to greenwashing, and the lacklustre language will spell tragedy for biodiversity across Cardiff and the whole of Wales.
“No matter how many protected species, the variety of biodiversity, or the importance for mental health and wellbeing, if the Welsh Labour Government wants to bulldoze green space in your community, it can do it, and you’ll be charged extortionate amounts for the privilege of simply trying to hold them accountable.
“Save the Northern Meadows will continue to fight any development on the meadows because it is the right thing to do for our community, for our environment, for our children, and for our future generations. At the start of this campaign we said we would never give up, and that holds true on this dark day.”
As well as the environmental destruction, campaigners also argue that building a standalone cancer centre would be worse for patients and research compared to building a new hospital next to a large general hospital like UHW.
However, Mr Justice Eyre said in the court that the “test is whether the judicial review claim has a real prospect of success”. He did not agree that the Welsh government was in breach of a legal duty to protect, maintain and enhance biodiversity.
Velindre University NHS Trust welcomed the court’s decision, adding: “We remain committed to delivering and improving non-surgical tertiary cancer services for the population of south-east Wales.”
TV nature presenter Iolo Williams had in November backed Cardiff’s Save the Northern Meadows campaign during a visit to the site.
He described it as a “green lung for Cardiff” and “a real stress reliever for local people”.
You’ll never believe it but the Welsh Government and – I’m ashamed to say – Velindre are complicit in wanting to destroy this site,” he said. “They want to build the new Veindre hospital here.
“Velindre do fantastic work. I’ve given massive support to them in the past. I’ve done sponsored walks. I’ve walked up Kilamanjaro to help them. But this is wrong.”