November date set for rail freight inquiry

PUBLISHED: 18:16 19 August 2009 | UPDATED: 14:22 06 May 2010

A DATE in November has been set for the second public inquiry into the plans for a massive rail freight terminal - but it has been met with objections. The district council is asking the Planning Inspectorate put back the November 24 date which was announ

A DATE in November has been set for the second public inquiry into the plans for a massive rail freight terminal - but it has been met with objections.

The district council is asking the Planning Inspectorate put back the November 24 date which was announced today (Wednesday) for them to prepare their case.

They will also be asking for a 24-day hearing instead of the 16 days allocated - the first planning inquiry lasted for over eight weeks.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting for Helioslough to put a hold on their appeal completely.

Campaign group STRiFE and MP Anne Main believe the application is premature in light of a recent Government announcement that a new rail policy document is being prepared which will supersede the existing one.

Together with train operator First Capital Connect (FCC), they also think that the public inquiry shouldn't be heard unless the developers can allay fears that there is insufficient capacity for freight trains along the Midland Mainline.

Network Rail has yet to confirm whether or not the 12 freight trains which would enter and exit the terminal proposed for Park Street can be shoehorned into the busy timetable.

Although they claim initial indications show that there "may" be the capacity, the detailed results of the rail modelling along the line won't be available until late in 2010.

Mrs Main said: "The developer is still galloping ahead, trying to push this proposal through when we have yet to see the rail path modelling and technical data that we believe is essential and, indeed, FCC and the Association of Train Operating Companies agree.

"The strategy for three to four rail freight terminals is the policy of this Government and it is pretty obvious that HelioSlough are hurrying through the proposal because they are fearful of a change of Government.

She added: "Frankly, I am appalled that Helioslough can press ahead in this manner and we shall continue to fight them every step of the way. They have not made their case, and many people in the industry agree with this. We all need to support STRIFE now in mounting a robust opposition.

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