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Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 16:37 GMT 17:37 UK
BMW wins battle with charities
BMW site
Vehicles have been produced at Cowley since 1913
Car manufacturer BMW has won a court battle against two charities to close a 2,000-year-old footpath in Oxfordshire.

The company applied last year for planning permission to divert a bridleway near its plant in Cowley.

But the Ramblers Association and the British Horse Society objected, saying the right to pathways should not be undermined by corporations.

At the end of the week-long hearing at Witney Magistrates' Court, Judge Brian Loosley decided in favour of BMW.

David normally wins in these cases. This time it's Goliath
Judge Brian Loosley

The judge ordered the British Horse Society to pay 29,700 and the Ramblers Association 19,800 in costs to the council, which was being challenged jointly with BMW.

He did not award costs to BMW, although it was represented in court, saying he had sympathy with them but in law they could not be regarded as a "complainant" in the case.

He said: "David normally wins in these cases. This time it's Goliath."

William Morris first started to produce vehicles at Cowley in 1913 and it has remained a car plant since. It was bought by BMW in 1994.

Since 2001, the Mini has been built at the plant, which employs more than 4,700 people to produce up to 800 cars a day.

Alternative route

In April last year BMW made a request to the council to "stop up" two highways that dissect the plant and a footpath on the grounds they were "unnecessary".

BMW and Oxfordshire County Council claimed that there was no genuine equestrian use, a suitable alternative route for pedestrians would be provided and it was a cul-de-sac providing access only to private premises.

The Ramblers Association opposed the order, arguing that pedestrians and cyclists use the path and the proposed alternative would be noisier and subject to higher levels of exhaust pollution.

The British Horse Society claimed the route was used by riders and the alternative route made no provisions for equestrians.

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