County Council to oppose rail interchange projects in letter to Secretary of State

How the two proposals would look if given permission
How the two proposals would look if given permission

Northamptonshire County Council is to write to the government expressing its opposition to two rail freight interchange projects planned for the county.

The authority will pen a letter to Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, to outline its ‘deep concerns’ regarding the suitability of the proposed Northampton Gateway and Rail Central sites, and the potential impact they will have on local residents.

The Northampton Gateway project, by Roxhill Developments, proposes a new distribution site adjacent to Junction 15 of the M1with new warehousing and a new rail freight terminal.

The similar Rail Central project, by Ashfield Land and Gazeley GLP, is where the West Coast Main Line meets the Northampton Loop Line between the villages of Blisworth and Milton Malsor.

The motion to write to the government was raised by Councillor Adam Brown, who represents the Bugbrooke ward for the county council.

Speaking at a full council meeting on Thursday (February 28), he told the chamber: “The effects of the proposed schemes would have a ripple effect up the A45 towards Northampton and also southwards towards Towcester and down the A508 towards Milton Keynes.

“This motion is about us standing shoulder to shoulder with residents who, certainly in the villages I represent, are absolutely united in their opposition to this. These are residents who would happily accept expansions to their village which are sustainable developments where credible arguments are put forward. So this is not NIMBYism. These are residents who have worked tirelessly over many months to put forward credible reasons as to why these are the wrong plans for the wrong place.”

Councillor Brown’s motion read: “This Council does not seek to question the validity of Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges per se, but expresses deep concern regarding the suitability of the sites in question and the potential impact of the proposals on local residents.

“The local road network is already far too congested to accommodate these schemes and cannot be improved sufficiently to mitigate their impact. Northamptonshire is already home to a successful and expanding SRFI, namely DIRFT near Daventry, calling into question the ability of the proposed sites to fulfil a strategic need.

“Over 1,150 acres of agricultural land would be lost as a result of the two proposals and local villages would be seriously affected by air, noise and light pollution that cannot be adequately mitigated against.”

Councillor Adil Saygov, seconding the motion, said he been involved with local campaign groups Stop Roxhill and Stop Rail Central ‘from the start’.

The campaign groups are arguing that the projects contradict planning policy, will have a ‘huge environmental impact’ and lead to a ‘traffic overload’.

Councillor Sadygov added: “I’m very conscious that developments of this size need to have benefits for local residents . Hundreds of people will be affected if they are given the green light to go ahead. The infrastructure is already barely coping.”

The Northampton Gateway application will be approved or rejected by the Government's Planning Inspectorate (PINS) rather than the local authority, as it is deemed a ‘nationally significant’ infrastructure project.

It is anticipated that public consultation and exhibitions on the Rail Central proposals could take place in the next three months.