Council’s final objections on rail freight hub

Blaby District Council has submitted its final objections to the Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange as the Planning Inspectorate’s examination of the plans ends.

The summary reinforces fears the 662-acre hub would destroy vast swathes of the District. It would also have far-reaching adverse highways, environmental and social impacts.

The scheme is classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project so the final decision on approval or rejection lies with the Secretary of State for Transport. As a consultee in the planning process the Council must now await this decision, expected in the autumn.

Proposed by developers Tritax Symmetry, the hub is earmarked for a huge expanse of countryside between the M69 and the Birmingham to Leicester rail line. The site lies southwest of Elmesthorpe and is on the edge of Burbage Common.

In its closing submission the Council outlines its key outstanding concerns. It urges the Secretary of State to refuse the application.

The Council contend:

  • The true severity of highways impacts, especially at the M1/M69 junction and Narborough level crossing has been poorly assessed so required mitigation is unknown
  • The proposal is badly designed and would create major adverse landscape and ecological impacts with the loss of wildlife habitat
  • Neighbouring settlements would suffer from unnecessary noise and light pollution
  • Expected job creation would not benefit the District as it results in generally low-paid jobs
  • The suggested socio-economic and climate change benefits do not outweigh the adverse impacts
  • There is no guarantee that goods will be brought in by rail rather than by road

Councillor Terry Richardson, Leader of Blaby District Council said: “We maintain our vehement opposition to the rail freight scheme. We maintain there has been insufficient mitigation for a whole host of issues. The scheme is poorly designed and totally alien to the surrounding environment. It would cause untold damage to the rural nature of our District and have wide-ranging adverse impacts beyond the immediate site area.

“Again and again, the same issues have come up during this examination. This is due to inadequate consultation by Tritax Symmetry and their failure to amend their plans in response to the concerns raised.

“While I am confident we have done all we possibly can to counter this proposal it is up to the Secretary of State to make the final call. For us, the claimed benefits of the scheme simply do not outweigh the significant harms caused. We can only hope the Minister agrees and rejects the plans.”