MP presents 18,000-strong petition calling for controversial railway depots near Northampton to be rejected

South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom with the Stop Rail Central and Stop Northampton Gateway petition
South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom with the Stop Rail Central and Stop Northampton Gateway petition

An 18,000-strong petition calling for the Government to reject controversial plans for two new railway depots near Northampton has been presented to Parliament.

South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom handed in the petition co-ordinated by action groups fighting the Rail Central and Northampton Gateway strategic rail freight interchanges (SFRI).

She paid tribute to Stop Rail Central and Stop Northampton Gateway's 'huge efforts' to convince the Secretary of State for Transport not to grant development consent orders for the schemes between junctions 15 and 15a of the M1.

“Local residents are clear that these SRFI proposals are not suitable for the area, and I am doing everything I can to support them in this," she said.

Roxhill's Northampton Gateway proposal would see a large rail depot built on land east of the West Coast Main Line and next to J15 of the M1 between Milton Malsor and Collingtree.

While Ashfield Land and Gazeley want to build a similar strategic rail freight interchange, called Rail Central, where two railway lines intersect adjacent to the A43 and within two miles of J15A of the M1.

Both developers argue the 'next-generation' SFRIs are needed to cope with demand and the locations are the 'best in the UK', while improvements will be made to infrastructure in the surrounding area as a result.

In their petition, residents cited concerns around existing unused capacity at nearby Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal and capacity constraints on the West Coast Main Line.

As well as the impact of thousands of additional vehicle movements on the roads, increased air and noise pollution, the blight on the landscape and that the sites are not earmarked for industrial development.

The decision for Northampton Gateway is now with the Secretary of State for consideration but Rail Central is more complex as the developer has asked for another extension.

Mrs Leadsom said: “This is most unsatisfactory, as it extends the delay and uncertainty that all residents in the surrounding area are feeling, causing misery and heartache to so many.

"If the developer is incapable of adhering to milestone requirements set by the planning inspectorate, then they should have their application thrown out.

The South Northants MP added that the Transport Secretary has agreed to an 'urgent' meeting to discuss this.

While she has also written to HS2 to find out if the admission that the controversial high-speed rail scheme may not be delivered until 2031 will affect the business case for Northampton Gateway.