Controversial Mossend rail freight scheme finally approved
Scottish government ministers have finally given planning approval for the construction of a controversial new rail cargo hub, the Mossend International Railfreight Park (MIRP) near Glasgow in Scotland. Backers hope it will be the last stage of a process which stalled after a local council took legal action on behalf of local residents opposing the scheme.
The application was submitted by Peter D. Stirling Ltd, owners and operators of the existing Mossend Railhead, which currently provides a direct rail link to logistics users. Supporters say the expansion of the site, which is in North Lanarkshire, will create a modern and strategic rail facility in central Scotland.
With an expanded railhead, including 775 metre-long sidings capable of handling the longer cargo trains, and 200,000 square feet of onsite storage, distribution and logistics facilities, MIRP marks a major investment in both North Lanarkshire and Scotland’s economy.
Its key benefits, say supporters, include a lower cost, efficient and more sustainable alternative to long haul road transport; improved access and delivery times for businesses moving all types of goods and the removal of all associated HGV traffic from the local road network. It will also create nearly 5,000 construction and operational jobs, as well as create a sustainable ‘green legacy’ for the Belshill area, which will also incorporate a network of community greenspace.
However the planning process was halted when North Lanarkshire Council, which received more than 1,000 written complaints from residents, took legal action a year ago. A court upheld the legal action and sent it back to the Government for consideration, but it has now stuck to its original backing for the scheme.
PD Stirling Ltd said in a statement: “We welcome the Reporter’s recommendation and Ministerial decision to consent the construction of Mossend International Railfreight Park (MIRP). Delivery of MIRP will create new opportunities for railfreight, both into and out of Scotland, and help to secure new investment and economic benefits both in Lanarkshire and across Scotland. We look forward to working closely with North Lanarkshire Council, our local communities, the Scottish Government and others to secure the jobs and investment that MIRP can bring.”
North Lanarkshire Council has not ruled out further action, and said it would be ‘reviewing the decision in detail’ and exploring ‘all available options’. Councillor Paul Kelly, the council’s Deputy Leader, added: “I am disappointed at the final decision made by Scottish Ministers, which completely counters the recommendations initially made by the Scottish Government’s own Reporter.
“We listened to our local communities who completely opposed the further development of the Mossend facility. Over 1,000 written objections were submitted, several petitions were put forward and all parties in this council took on board the significant strength of feeling by local people that this large-scale development would have a detrimental impact on their lives and on the local landscape and green space.
“Although the Reporter acknowledges the residential environment and natural heritage between Bellshill and Coatbridge will be diminished, the sheer weight of the railfreight park’s economic benefits appears to have been the deciding factor. Our local communities will be devastated that local, democratic decision-making has not been taken into account.”
Full details of the scheme are on the Mossend rail freight park website.