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West Midlands Interchange: MPs unite to fight 'disastrous' rail hub

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Two Staffordshire MPs have joined forces to fight plans for a huge multi-million pound rail freight hub.

South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson and Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy have launched a joint campaign to stop the planned West Midlands Interchange scheme at Four Ashes.

A consultation with two possible designs for the 600-acre site just off junction 12 of the M6 at Gailey is under way.

Mr Williamson, who gave an impassioned speech at an information event in Coven, said the proposals were 'horrendous'.

He said: "I am yet to meet a single person who is in favour of these plans.

"It would have disastrous consequences for the green belt in South Staffordshire and the wider impact on the surrounding communities would be horrendous.

"We would see a huge rise in the number of large lorries using our already crammed roads and quite frankly a development of this scale is entirely inappropriate for the countryside – it would be a monstrosity.

"My parliamentary colleague and constituency neighbour Jeremy Lefroy and I have met the developers but were not reassured or persuaded by what they had to say."

  • MORE: WATCH - Angry residents protest £8.5m interchange
  • MORE: West Midlands Interchange - A boost for the region or a grave concern?

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Mr Lefroy said other locations in the Midlands should be considered, particularly brownfield sites.

He added: "Many of my constituents and I are very concerned about the impact this proposal will have on the local road network, which is already under strain.

"Penkridge, Gailey and other communities on the A449, A5 and local roads already experience heavy traffic when there are problems on the M6, which is frequently.

"This development will be substantially on the South Staffordshire green belt which is in place precisely to prevent over-development of areas."

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A plan of the proposed east rail terminal option
A plan of the proposed west rail terminal option

Bosses from Four Ashes Limited, behind the scheme, say it will create thousands of jobs, boosting manufacturing, logistics, freight and other areas of the region's economy, as well as reducing the overall number of trucks on roads.

Managing director Peter Frost said: "We are very conscious that the project will have a significant impact on local people so we are doing our utmost to demonstrate we want to go about things in the best possible way should it go ahead.

"We are working incredibly hard on that and hundreds of people have attended our first consultation meetings.

"The overwhelming majority of people who have attended the exhibitions recognise the benefits of the project even if they would prefer the location was not on their doorstep."

A planning application is not expected until 2018.

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