Warning at dawdling over rail freight hub

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COUNTY councillors are being urged to continue to support any potential rail hub scheme for South Holland before major employers choose to go elsewhere.

The warning that “we must act now” has been given to the members of Lincolnshire County Council’s economic scrutiny committee in a report due to be discussed next Tuesday.

“We are aware that major road/rail hubs are proposed in other parts of the East Midlands, creating a real risk that some of our existing major employers will relocate to sites with better transport connections by road and rail,” it warns.

“We must act now, not only to retain the jobs which already exist in the area, but to provide further local job opportunities for the next generation.”

The plans, although not yet submitted to the authority, are understood to be in the pipeline for later this year through a mystery developer.

South Holland District Council has revealed its preferred site for the hub would be in Deeping St Nicholas, despite fierce local opposition to the suggestion.

Haulage firm Fowler-Welch has confirmed it has agreed to operate it should it go ahead.

The report to county councillors explains how the rail hub could be built to coincide with Network Rail plans to upgrade the line through Spalding for rail freight, which would create a “one-off opportunity” to minimise local disruption.

It also reassures about the size of the potential proposal: “It is understood that scale of any submitted proposals will differ from what was previously envisaged in the Intermodality report; the focus now being on providing a rail terminal facility to serve existing local business.

“This then has clear implications for how the development would look, and the level of road and rail traffic generation associated with it, in the short term.

“However, in the longer term, there might be demand for expansion of any initial development if it were to prove sufficiently successful from commercial and sustainable development perspectives.”

The report also warns that while councils are strongly supportive of improving transport links, it will be for the private sector to prove its worth.