Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Strategic Rail Freight - A personal view

Last Thursday Castle Donington Parish Council hosted a public meeting to consider and listen to the comments and concerns of local people surrounding the plans by developer Roxhill for a Strategic Rail Freight Terminal (SRFT) on land between Castle Donington, Hemington and Lockington and Kegworth.

Increasing freight distribution through rail has been an aspiration of successive governments and the possibility of locating a distribution hub on this location has long been considered.

Approval for a SRFT will not be given by North West Leicestershire District Council nor am I a member of the Planning Committee but I do want to take this opportunity to set out my own views.

The opportunity to potentially site a SRFT in North West Leicestershire is without overstatement one which could significantly beneficially improve our local economy for many years to come and in principle should be welcomed.

Not only could a SRFT directly bring thousands of new jobs to our district in both construction and ongoing employment but it would also benefit local businesses servicing the needs of the development and its workers.

A SRFT will provide much needed opportunities for training young people through apprenticeships as well as bringing significant improvements to public transport.

Let me be clear a SRFT is also likely to benefit our district in other important ways. A massive increase to district wide rateable value combined with a likely future capped retention of business rates will mean that local services wanted by local residents can be demonstrably improved.

There are also likely to be significant improvements to infrastructure as a direct result of the development being approved.

A SRFT in any location is likely to have an impact on immediately neighbouring communities. It is imperative that consideration needs to be given to and mitigation needs to be put in place for issues such as light and noise pollution and reducing traffic density.

The developer must work as a partner with authorities and the local community to absolutely minimise disruption to the lives of neighbours.

Our economy both nationally and locally has suffered in recent years.

We have an opportunity right here and now to give jobs to thousands of local families, to provide a long term boost to local businesses and improve community facilities.

We must not waste that opportunity.

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