No sunrise yet for Hinckley freight terminal
Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange project – a new intermodal terminal planned for a rural corner of Leicestershire – has been put back to public consultation for the third time in its troubled history. The project has met with stern opposition from local stakeholders who claim that the project will be detrimental to an already heavily developed area, taking away much-valued countryside in the process.
Situated in the middle of what the industry calls the golden triangle for logistics, Hinckley NRFI is set to add much-needed warehouse capacity to the English Midlands. The rail connections might be expected to be busy from the beginning, but the project may never even get as far as day one. Objectors have stalled the development for several years already, and the level of opposition has forced Tritax Symmetry, the developers, to think again and again.
Concerns over lack of detail
Tritax Symmetry proposes to build a freight hub, which will straddle countryside between the Birmingham – Leicester mainline, and the M69 motorway, a 15,7-mile (25,3 km) route that connects the M6 and M1 north-south routes. The intermodal terminal is supposed to occupy a greenfield site alongside a one-thousand-year-old Anglo-Saxon settlement and modern-day market town. The sensitivity of the area has forced several rethinks on the project.
However, residents, interested parties, and elected representatives say that the developers have not satisfied their inquiries despite several rounds of consultation. A recent exhibition, say the opponents, lacked clarity and detail, despite over three years of dialogue. Tritax, for their part, say that the facility will provide railway sidings and a freight transfer area alongside the line between Hinckley and Leicester. They say the facility would be well-placed in the national rail network to provide direct links to and from significant cargo terminals.
Similar story in Scotland
It is not all plain sailing for the growing intermodal terminal sector. The news of the setback comes on the heels of a similar knock-back for a proposed site at Ravenscraig in Motherwell, Scotland. A former steelworks has been largely redeveloped for recreational and residential use at that location. Residents there are furiously resisting plans for a rail terminal in their backyard.
South Leicestershire Member of Parliament, Mr Alberto Costa, said his constituents had numerous contacts with him, opposing the plans. “Given the size, scale and level of disruption this development will bring to my constituents, it is quite clear that the consultation for the Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange has been nowhere near good enough”, he said. “I have heard from a large number of my constituents who are deeply concerned about the lack of detail outlined in the consultation documents and the poor knowledge displayed by Tritax officials at public consultations and webinars who have been unable to answer reasonable and fairly simple questions put forward by residents”.