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Protesters stand against Bescot sleeper factory plan

By Jordan Reynolds | Walsall | Property | Published:

Increased traffic, air pollution and the impact on nearby house prices were some of the reasons protestors were taking a stand against a proposed railway sleeper factory.

An information event was being held today at Banks's Stadium for the facility at Bescot sidings freight yard.

Network Rail has said that the development will create around 100 jobs, but residents were not happy with the plans - even after they were changed to move the proposed development 500 metres away from houses.

Wayne Trinder, of Sandy Lane, said residents already have issues with breathing from air pollution.

Councillor Elaine Costigan discusses the plans with Anthony Marley

The 48-year-old added: "We don't need it here.

"This is a highly congested area we already have issues with air pollution and breathing diseases.

"It would be nearly 70,000 extra vehicles per year, it makes me worry for the future.

"I bought my house 14 years ago and it will probably be worthless if this goes ahead."

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But Anthony Marley, programme director for Network Rail, said the development would boost the local economy.

He said: "The event is for us to address some of the messages that we think might not be accurate.

"It's an opportunity for the public to understand why we're doing it, what it is and where, then we can get their views to before a planning submission.

"It will create 100 jobs and there will be lots of inward investment and opportunities for small and medium sized businesses."

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Pensioners Sylvia Dickinson and Helen Davis, both 71, were concerned about the traffic increase.

The plan

Mrs Dickinson said: "There's already heavy traffic on the motorway, we live by Junction 9, it's already polluted.

"My son and two grandchildren have asthma."

The scheme will see a giant development built on the Wednesbury-Walsall border to create 600,000 concrete rail sleepers each year.

The proposed factory will make 60 per cent of the UK's entire sleeper production each year. It will operate 24 hours a day with raw materials for production of the sleepers – concrete blocks that lie underneath rail tracks – being brought in on lorries.

A petition against it has been signed by more than 5,000 people.

Developers have planned to build a new link road to take traffic to the facility direct from the A4031, to avoid passing any houses on Sandy Lane. Vehicles will also be directed to the site from Junction 1 of the M5, while vehicles leaving will use the route back to the M6, Junction 9.

Network Rail is expected to submit a formal planning application to Sandwell Council in May.

Jordan Reynolds

By Jordan Reynolds
Reporter - @jreynolds_star

Senior reporter at the Express & Star.

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