Campaigners fighting giant rail freight terminal near Northampton issue last-ditch plea to the Government

Protestors fighting plans for a 500-acre rail freight terminal on the edge of Northampton have issued a last-ditch plea to the secretary of state to refuse the scheme.

Roxhill's Northampton Gateway proposals have been strongly opposed by more than 30 surrounding parish councils as well as South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom and her Daventry counterpart Chris Heaton-Harris.

But the decision for the huge terminal and warehouses on a swathe of farmland near junction 15 of the M1 now rests with the secretary of state for transport Chris Grayling, who has now received an appraisal of the scheme from the Planning Inspectorate.

Stop Roxhill Gateway Action Group, leading the protest against it, has now taken the step of writing to Mr Grayling directly.

The letter to the transport secretary reads: "Given the almost total opposition from local communities and their elected representatives, it must be for the applicant to demonstrate that the overriding strategic benefits of the proposal genuinely outweigh the very considerable environmental impacts involved.

"If this application is permitted, we believe it will mean the needless sacrifice of 500 acres of farmland and wildlife habitat, creating yet more traffic gridlock on an overstretched road and increase the already high levels of air and noise pollution."

Last week the campaign group learned they would not be able to see any of the recommendations sent by the Planning Inspectorate to Mr Grayling.

Among the parishes opposing the scheme are Milton Malsor, Collingtree, Blisworth, Roade, East & West Hunsbury and Grange Park. Northamptonshire County Council has also raised serious concerns about the pressure the terminal would place on the surrounding roads.

The campaigners say Roxhill's "opportunistic; not strategic" and represents an opportunity to build on "cheap arable land".

Furthermore, the site is excluded from industrial development in the Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy - a blueprint for the suitability of development land across the county.

The letter goes on to say: "It conflicts with national and local planning legislation and guidance and most specifically with the West Northamptonshire Joint Core Strategy, which excludes this site for Industrial Development."