Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange

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Northampton Gateway Rail Freight Interchange

Received 02 July 2018
From Blisworth Parish Council


Blisworth Parish Council strongly object to the proposed Northampton Gateway for the following reasons.
1. POLICY COMPLIANCE Strategic rail freight interchanges are required to conform with many policies within the National Policy Statement for National Networks. The proposal for Northampton Gateway does not conform with several of these policies including, but not limited to: air quality; environmental impact (not a brownfield site); local workforce availability; proximity to residential areas; road safety; quality of life; assessment of alternative sites; establishment of a national network of SRFIs ‘across the regions’; and it precedes, rather than follows, investment in the strategic rail network.

2. TRAFFIC CONCERNS We do not believe, for the reasons summarised below, that Northampton Gateway will function as a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) and, consequently, that it will generate greatly increased traffic on the highways and village road network in the local area whilst bringing no, or only marginal, benefits in the form of modal shift:
a) It is too close (15 miles) to DIRFT which has sufficient additional capacity (~7,860,000 sq ft) to satisfy the regional need for the next 13 years. Both will compete for tenants and finite rail paths over the same time frame
b) It is not close to a major conurbation meaning that the primary objective of reducing the secondary leg of the freight journey by road will not be fully realised
c) The location is remote from the industrial heartlands meaning that the rail terminal will only receive goods, not send them: the majority of trains will return empty
d) The low unemployment in the area will result in increased employee commuting from outside the area leading to increased, rather than reduced, carbon emissions and congestion
e) The distance to all the major ports in England is too short to make most journeys economic by rail
f) An additional (estimated) 17,000 vehicle movements per day would be generated with the majority predicted to use J15 and the busiest section of the M1 in the UK. All traffic will have to use the A508. The Applicant has failed to demonstrate the effects that perturbation of these two very critical arteries will have on the surrounding village roads
g) The Applicant has failed to demonstrate, at an early stage, that the rail network can provide sufficient capacity to facilitate a beneficial modal shift. The labelling of a RFI as Strategic brings with it higher expectations in terms of modal shift and carbon reduction. The Applicant has also failed to demonstrate that there is sufficient freight capacity (or demand) to support all the SRFIs being built or currently in the application process (a requirement of the cumulative impact assessment).

3. STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE The Applicant has not produced an alternative sites assessment to demonstrate that this is the best placed location to contribute to a strategic national freight network taking into account existing SRFIs, consented SRFIs and those SRFIs still in the application process. Given the excessive number being brought forward in one region (The Midlands) the Applicant has provided no evidence that theirs is best placed to facilitate an effective modal shift. Consequently it fails to satisfy the over-riding NPS objectives of delivering a ‘strategic network’ ‘across the regions’. This omission is a major non-compliance with the Planning Act 2008. Furthermore, the fact that the Applicant has attempted to bring forward a number of non-rail connected developments on the same site brings into question their real motivation.

4. ROAD SAFETY The proposed works to the local road network will have the effect of increasing traffic on some country lanes and through the centres of villages; they will not, as the Applicant contends; reduce it. The proposed weight limits on a number of country lanes are not enforceable and are likely to be ignored. There is a significantly increased risk to the safety and well-being of local residents from increased light and heavy traffic on unsuitable roads.

5. HISTORIC HERITAGE Being in such close proximity, the development will cause a dislocation between rural communities and have a significant adverse impact on the historic setting of two ancient villages and conservation areas. The industrial landscape being imposed is completely foreign to, and unsympathetic with, the rural environment which is currently afforded the protection of the adopted West Northants Joint Core Strategy and the South Northamptonshire Local Plan (1988 - 2006) Adopted Oct 1997) (Policy EV8) which designates the area as an Important Local Gap to prevent the coalescence of Milton Malsor, Blisworth and Roade into the Northampton conurbation. The individual identities of these historic villages would be lost and surrounding land marginalised by the industrialisation would be vulnerable to further development pressures.

6. PUBLIC RIGHTS OF WAY The dislocation of the villages of Collingtree, Milton Malsor and Blisworth would be further exacerbated by the diversion of the footpaths linking the three villages. The attractiveness of the paths to ramblers, dog walkers and local people will be severely diminished (and probably destroyed) by its additional length and proximity to the intermodal terminal and railway.

7. NOISE AND LIGHT This rural environment currently enjoys dark night skies and tranquil evenings. The noise and light pollution generated by the operation (exacerbated by the fact that a large proportion of freight movements and associated activity will be at night) will have a significant adverse impact on the quality of life and health of residents living close by.

8. SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS The Policy Statement advises that Applicants should provide evidence that they have considered reasonable opportunities to deliver environmental and social benefits as part of schemes. No socio-economic benefits are being proposed or would be delivered and the Applicant has failed to fully appreciate (or mitigate) the impacts that increases in crime would have on a rural community.

9. ECOLOGY The proposed development would exclusively build on currently productive farmland which cannot be regarded as sustainable. There would be extensive loss of habitat for wild life; there is no effective mitigation for these losses.

10. CUMULATIVE IMPACT The assessment of the cumulative impact of building Europe’s largest warehouse park (Northampton Gateway and Rail Central combined) on productive agricultural green fields is inadequate as it fails to address (amongst other things): the effect on passenger rail services; the availability and resilience of utilities; the combined impact on the national and local road networks; and the efficacy of the proposed footpath diversions. Contrary to Paragraph 1.6 of Advice Note 17 no consideration has been given to other NSIPs in the region (other than a cursory assessment of Rail Central): the cumulative impact that building multiple SRFIs in the same region will have on the efficacy of a national strategic network has, therefore, not been considered.