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Ministers back East Midlands rail freight project against inspectors’ advice

by on January 21, 2016

Proposals for a huge so-called strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI) earmarked for a 100-hecatre site near the East Midlands Airport at Castle Donnington, Leicestershire have been approved by ministers, against the advice of the three planning inspectors who examined the project.

The decision on the East Midlands Gateway SRFI scheme’s Development Consent Order (DCO) was officially made by transport minister Robert Goodwill rather than the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin as the facility is proposed for a site adjacent to the M1 near McLoughlin’s constituency.

The proposals include a new rail line, rail freight terminal, some 560,000 square metres of warehousing and an intermodal area.

The inspectors recommended refusal because they thought the project did not comply with two paragraphs of the relevant National Policy Statement (NPS) on functionality and rail connections. At issue was how well-connected the scheme would be to the rail network as the scheme was built-out and in the future.

The decision letter said that the Transport Secretary accepted that in some limited respects the proposals did not fulfil the letter of the NPS, particularly in not providing for future rail extensions and not providing for direct rail connections to individual warehouses.

However the letter said the SoS was satisfied the project displayed “overall a substantial degree of consistency with the objectives of the NPS, having the potential to contribute significantly to modal transfer and to meet the national need for an expanded network of SRFIs.

“The SoS has therefore concluded that the project is substantially compliant with the NSP requirements for SFRFIs when they are considered as a whole.”

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Roger Milne

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