Debate forced by rail hub petition

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COUNCILLORS will have to re-visit their decision to earmark land in Deeping St Nicholas for a rail freight hub.

Angry residents have presented an 850-name petition against the choice to South Holland District Council – a figure that automatically triggers a debate by the full council.

They say that by selecting land parallel with the A16 for the industrial development the council has pre-judged any possible future planning application and left them with a “blight”.

They also argue that the council had no need to select the land and should have left it up to a firm from the private sector to make their own application and choose a site they wanted.

The freight interchange would see food manufacturing firms bring their produce in and out of the district by rail instead of road.

The council has argued that this will help keep the district’s businesses in the area, and possibly attract new ones here – but campaign group RAIL (Rally Against the Industrialisation of our Landscape) says trains could never replace the flexibility offered by the fleet of lorries used by businesses at the moment.

They say it is already affecting people who want to buy and sell homes in the area.

In a letter accompanying the petition Jocelyn Kedzlie, of RAIL, said: “Following a Freedom of Information request we have been informed that no land is deemed to be blighted.

“However, that does not address the issue that residents are affected and you have, so far, given no regard to the consequences of this massive proposed development on the village from an environmental, ecological, heritage, loss of amenity or noise and light pollution point of view.”

RAIL says the project bears similarities to the problems faced by the Red Lion Quarter – arguing that both are based on flawed business cases.

Mrs Kedzlie added: “No regard is being paid to public concern about its location. The truncated so-called ‘pre-consultation’ was a sham.

“It is based in economic development considerations to the exclusion of all else.”

By obtaining 850 signatures the matter will be brought up by a full council meeting. Mrs Kedzlie will have five minutes to present her petition before a 30 minute discussion.