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A new freight-rail interchange near Wolverhampton that has faced local opposition has been approved by the government.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps granted a development consent order for the West Midlands Freight Rail Interchange on Monday. The scheme will cover 700 acres and be bordered by the M6, A5 and A449. When finished, the site will have almost 750,000 square feet of warehouse space and a direct rail link connecting to the West Coast Main Line. The interchange has been brought forward by a consortium of private developers under the name Four Ashes.
The project has faced strong local opposition with MP for South Staffordshire Gavin Williamson branding it “idiotic”. The education secretary told local newspaper Express & Star: "This is an idiotic decision, which has left me feeling absolutely sickened. It has shown no regard or consideration for the thoughts of local people.”
Some residents have opposed the scheme complaining that it will be built on virgin land and will see up to 9,000 extra vehicles travelling to and from the site per day once it is operational.
Planning Inspectorate chief executive Sarah Richards said: “Local people, the local authority and other interested parties were able to participate in a six-month-long examination. The examining authority listened and gave full consideration to local views before making their recommendation.”
The rail interchange element of the scheme will cost more than £100m, with the overall development costing as much as £569m, according to data provider Glenigan. A new link road connecting the site to the A5 and A449 is set to be built along with the freight rail terminal that will be built on the existing rail line that runs next to the site.
Construction is scheduled to begin early next year, with the whole development due to be completed by 2035.
CECA Midlands director Dawn Karakatsanis said the scheme would be “good news” for the region’s economy and reduce congestion on the roads. “Now that the development consent has been given the go-ahead, we hope that works on this scheme can move forward quickly to market without delay.”
This article first appeared on www.constructionnews.co.uk
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