'Untold damage' warning on rail interchange

Rail Freight Train Through Countryside

'Untold damage' to rural communities is in store if plans for the huge 662-acre Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange (HNRFI) go ahead, according to Councillor Terry Richardson, Leader of Blaby District Council.

He says the scheme, earmarked for swathes of countryside southwest of Elmesthorpe, would change the rural character of the District and its village communities forever.

His warning comes as the Council submits its latest formal submission, the Written Representation. In it the Council says it “vehemently opposes the HNRFI due to the far-reaching adverse environmental and social impacts it would cause in the local area”.

The Written Representation and a Local Impact Report, highlighting serious concerns about the scheme, have been lodged with the Planning Inspectorate.

The Inspectorate is scrutinising the rail freight hub plans, during a six-month examination.

Proposed by developer Tritax Symmetry, the hub would sit between the M69 and the Leicester to Birmingham rail line.

Neither the Council, nor the Planning Inspectorate can approve nor reject the plans. Due to its status as a National Infrastructure Project its fate will ultimately be decided by the Secretary of State for Transport.

However, as a statutory consultee, the Council can raise issues through written submissions as well as at the various meetings and hearings which are taking place through to next spring.

Building on previous concerns, the Council’s Written Representation says the scheme has significant deficiencies and fails to mitigate some of its most negative impacts.

Objections include that it:

  • Does not have a sufficient transport strategy in place and so will cause significant adverse road network impacts
  • Has not been subject to adequate consultations with local residents
  • Does not include a satisfactory noise pollution assessment
  • Fails to explain the impacts in neighbouring villages such as Narborough from the increased rail crossing barrier downtime
  • Does not provide adequate plans to retain employment benefits in the District

Cllr Richardson said: "We have raised concerns about these proposals ever since they were mooted and our opposition has not changed – in fact it has become more vehement. This scheme would give rise to untold and irreversible damage to our village communities.

"Tritax have completely failed to consult adequately and take on board local feeling. Measures to mitigate some of the most negative impacts of the development simply do not go far enough. We have repeatedly raised these points and Tritax have repeatedly failed to act.

"If this proposal goes ahead in its present form our communities would be saddled with a monstrous blot on the landscape, noise and light glare 24/7 and huge lorries using villages as rat runs.

"We will continue to fight these plans and I would urge any members of the public who are able, to join us at the upcoming hearings and help fight them too."

For more information on HNRFI visit: Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange (blaby.gov.uk)

Cllr Terry Richardson

Councillor Terry Richardson
Leader of the Council

24 October 2023