East Midlands rail freight hub approved

Roxhill rail freight plan Image copyright Roxhills
Image caption The development will see warehouses built on 6,000,000 sq ft of land

A rail freight hub and warehouse complex has been approved which developers say will create 7,000 jobs.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has given the go ahead to the East Midlands Gateway Rail Freight Interchange near East Midlands Airport.

An independent planning committee had previously recommended the 250-acre (101 hectare) scheme be refused.

Opponents said they were "devastated" and would consider applying for a judicial review.

Developer Roxhill has previously said the hub - to be built on farmland between the Leicestershire village of Castle Donington, East Midlands Airport and the M1 - will create 7,000 jobs once it is up and running, handling the equivalent of up to 1,800 lorries a day and acting as an "inland port".

The plans:

  • A freight terminal to accommodate 775m-long trains
  • Up to 557,414 sq m of warehouses
  • A new rail line to connect to the Castle Donington branch line
  • New roads and improvements to junction 24 of the M1

The company also said the East Midlands Gateway was centrally located - close to the motorway and airport - and had easy access to major deep sea ports.

But an independent planning committee, established because of the scale of the project, recommended refusal because; not all warehouses would be connected to the rail network; the warehouses would be built and operational before the rail connection; and there are no long-term plans to increase rail connections.

Image copyright Roxhill
Image caption The freight terminal will be built close to the M1, East Midlands Airport and east access to deep sea ports

Minister of State for Transport, Robert Goodwill, acting on behalf of the transport secretary, disagreed with the panel, concluding it did fit within national guidelines.

Toni Harrington, chairman of Lockington cum Hemington Parish Council and a member of the J24 Action Group, said the area was already over-developed.

"It's absolutely devastating news," she said. "The parish council and residents worked really hard to demonstrate the development isn't necessary. There's already loads of empty warehouses at Castle Donington.

"We have read the small print and it could be that a rail connection will never go ahead, which is what we feared all along. Our biggest worry is that it just becomes a road freight yard.

"We're not done yet - we will look at a judicial review."

No one was available to comment from Roxhill.

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