A consultation into plans for a huge £750 million rail freight hub in the East Midlands countryside has been attacked as “incomplete, inaccurate, and vague”.
Blaby District Council has attacked the plans for a 440 acre Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange, just off the M69 in west Leicestershire, which it said had been poorly presented to people living nearby.
Neighbouring Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council also criticised the time available for the consultation as inadequate and said some of the information provided was incomplete – which it said meant the process fell short of government guidance.
Tritax Symmetry said the vast scheme, next to the Leicester to Birmingham railway line, would be big enough to accommodate up to 16, half a mile long trains a day.
It said the warehouses would cover more than 9.1 million sq ft and be up to 91ft high, and the scheme could eventually create 8,400 jobs.
The scheme falls mainly within the Blaby district boundary, but the council will not make the final decision because of its scale. Instead it will be determined by the Secretary of State, with the Blaby and Hinckley councils acting as consultees.
Blaby has highlighted when it calls “major concerns” that the consultation was “not adequate and falls short of the standard expected”.
The council’s Adequacy of Consultation Representation states:
Incomplete, inaccurate, and vague information has been provided and requested detail has not been shared The applicant’s approach does not align with government guidance and the legal principles of consultation There has been “premature and poor consultation” in regard to the highways impacts There is a lack of data on the need for and use of the development as a rail freight interchange It could lead to longer waits at the Narborough level crossing, and worse air quality for residents, which the council said have not been given enough consideration The landscape impacts have not been adequately mitigated In a statement a spokesperson for Tritax Symmetry said: “We have worked extensively with the local authorities and key stakeholders throughout the process.
“We are committed to continuing to work with them throughout the DCO (Development Consent Order) process and remain in regular contact with all parties.”
Blaby District Council leader Coun Terry Richardson said: “For any consultation exercise to be effective, there must be genuine dialogue between the parties and meaningful consideration of the consultation responses by the applicant.
“The information provided by the applicant also needs to set out the justification for the scheme and be capable of being fully understood by stakeholders and members of the public.
“While reviewing the consultation documents, we found essential evidence and information were simply not there or were presented before they were ready.
“This is the case despite the council’s frequent requests for extra information made in both writing and verbally during working groups and at other meetings between the Council and the applicant.
“Our conclusion is that incomplete, inaccurate and vague information has been provided, and information requested remains outstanding.”
The Planning Inspectorate has until March 6 to decide whether to accept this part of the application, prior to assessing the developer’s plans.
There will be a six-month-long examination phase, including hearings, towards the end of the year and a decision is expected by the middle of next year.
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