A number of residents have been in touch with me to raise their concerns about Ashfield Land's proposals to construct a strategic rail freight terminal between the villages of Milton Malsor and Blisworth. Situated at the junction of the West Coast Main Line and the Northampton Loop Line, near to the key freight routes of the M1 and A43, Rail Central would cover some 250 hectares of land and include eight million square feet of warehousing and other facilities.
I met with a group of constituents earlier in the month who are coordinating the local engagement with the development plans and talked through some of the early concerns. These will be familiar to anyone blighted by the construction and operational proposals by HS2 Ltd elsewhere in South Northamptonshire: noise, light and air pollution; construction traffic; LGVs once the site is in operation; impact on house values; loss of green countryside; and so on.
As the project is a nationally significant infrastructure project, local planning authorities are cut out of the decision-making process and authority delegated to the relevant Secretary of State via a recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate. To find out more about how this works in practice please visit: http://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk
I am meeting with the Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, at the earliest possible date to ask a number of questions on behalf of South Northants residents, and I will report back when I have an update. I will also be meeting with the developers, although my Parliamentary Assistant Tommy Gilchrist has had a pre-meeting on my behalf and I continue to be in close contact with them through my office. I would also anticipate attending meetings of the local action group once this has been formally established as, in my experience, these have always served as a useful conduit for local residents' concerns
However, please do not hesitate to drop me a line with your thoughts on the proposal – I should be very glad to hear from you!