Controversial plans for major freight rail hub near Wolverhampton facing inspection

Hugely controversial plans to build a rail hub on 700 acres of land just outside of Wolverhampton have been handed over to experts - as campaigners vowed to step up their fight.

The land where the hub would be built
The land where the hub would be built

Four Ashes Ltd, which is behind the contentious West Midlands Interchange scheme, has submitted an application for development consent.

Thousands of families opposed to the development now face an anxious four-week wait to discover whether initial plans for the freight hub at Gailey will be allowed to progress.

The Planning Inspectorate will pour over plans to decide whether they are acceptable to move towards a full application for the development.

Senior figures, including South Staffordshire MP and Government Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, say the rail hub will create havoc and bring extra traffic and noise and see the countryside ripped up.

Now campaigners, who fear the arrival of the rail hub could push villages including Brewood, Calf Heath and Gailey towards 'extinction' have called on residents to back their bid to have the development thrown out.

Donna Gilmartin, from Stop Gailey Freight Hub, said: "We are going to renew our campaign. We have been in talks with both MPs, Gavin Williamson and Jeremy Lefroy, who are still actively against this development.

"We will be asking the community to voice their concerns to the Planning Inspectorate. You have to have factual evidence of why it is not a good place to put a freight hub and that's what we will be presenting to them, regarding the site being totally inappropriate and the road system will not be able to cope with the amount of traffic coming through.

"Imagine another 20,000 vehicles. It would be horrendous. All the little lanes would become rat-runs.

"All the local villages will be extinct basically if this thing comes. People won't want to live here with the pollution and traffic and people won't be able to sell their homes with the development here."

The Planning Inspectorate will now scrutinise the plans, on behalf of the Secretary of State, to decide 'whether or not the application meets the standards required to be accepted for examination'. A decision on whether the plans are ready to move to the next stage is expected by August 31.

The arrival of the freight hub would create up to 8,500 new logistics jobs, contributing £417 million to the local economy and £1.3bn nationally, bosses have said. The site will be about a third bigger than the i54 business park near Wolverhampton which is home to the £500m JLR engine plant.

It is estimated more than 3,000 lorries and 6,000 cars and vans will travel to and from the site every day once fully running by 2035.

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