Railway sleeper factory refused by Sandwell councillors
A huge railway sleeper factory will not be built next to the M6 after the controversial application was thrown out by planning bosses.
Network Rail wanted to build the factory to produce 600,000 sleepers a year on the Bescot sidings freight yard on the Wednesbury and Walsall border.
But the scheme was met with fierce opposition from residents, while prominent politicians including Tom Watson had called for it to be scrapped.
The application was refused by Sandwell Council's planning committee at an extraordinary meeting to the relief of locals who have campaigned against the scheme for more than two years.
Dozens of residents attended the crunch meeting to hear the decision of councillors.
Planning officials said "environmental effects", including emissions and water contamination, and the "unacceptable" number of lorries entering and leaving the site meant they could not allow the development to go ahead.
Applause rang around the council house after members said they could not allow the application to go through over environmental concerns.
Campaigner Wayne Trinder, 49, of Sandy Lane, said: “I feel absolutely fantastic. I can enjoy Christmas with my children. It’s a great victory for us. I’m glad the council actually listened to us and all our concerns.
“Having HGVs pumping out emissions is not good for anybody.”
The decision will come as a huge disappointment to chiefs at Network Rail who had insisted the sleeper factory would "bring millions of pounds to the local economy and support hundreds of jobs in the West Midlands".
Rail bosses had also stated only an average of around 30 lorries would enter the site each day.
Network Rail has also made changes to the original plans in an effort to appease residents, including relocating the proposed site 600m further away from local homes.
But it was not enough to ensure the development could go ahead.
It could be possible that the battle is not over for residents.
Network Rail could appeal Sandwell Council's ruling and have the application decided by the independent Planning Inspectorate.