Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Campaign to derail terminal grows

By Laura Pettigrew
Lanarkshire reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Graphic impression of freight terminal
The freight hub would have between six and eight storage sheds

Plans to build one of Europe's biggest rail freight terminals on land close to a former landfill site in Lanarkshire have met with fierce local opposition.

Kilgarth Development Company (KDC) wants to convert almost two million sq ft of grassland between Coatbridge and Glenboig into a huge rail freight hub.

Local people have formed an action group to object to the proposals.

Now residents from further afield have voiced concern about an increase in the number of trains passing their homes.

KDC said the 100m project, which would see between six and eight storage sheds constructed on the 91 hectare site, could create up to 1,000 jobs for the area.

A planning application was recently submitted to North Lanarkshire Council.

If approved, the scheme would also see the creation of a road that would link the site with the M73 running through Gartcosh and across the railway line into Kilgarth.

Andy Speedie, from KDC, told the BBC Scotland News website the facility would remove up to 30 million lorry miles from the road network.

He said: "This development aims to take freight off our roads onto rail, and will create up to 1,000 jobs for the Coatbridge area.

"We have identified a need for a terminal like this one.

"We are speaking to a large number of large operators of different types who want to have a central location in Scotland for distribution purposes."

However, local residents in the nearby villages of Glenboig and Townhead said there was no need for such a facility to be built on their doorstep.

They have submitted a 12-page objection document to the local council.

Hugh Banford at Kilgarth
It is going to be a 24 hour operation so we are worried about noise pollution, light pollution and the increase in traffic
Hugh Banford
Kilgarth Action Group
Hugh Banford, who lives about 200 metres from the proposed site, helped set-up and now chairs the Kilgarth Action Group.

He said: "Before KDC moved onto this site it was greenbelt. To all intents and purposes it was a country park with beautiful fields and mature trees where people could walk their dogs, exercise their horses and go for walks in the summer.

"We have checked with all the major freight operators and there is no need for facility like this here.

"It is going to be a 24-hour operation so we are worried about noise pollution, light pollution and the increase in traffic."

Mr Banford also raised concerns about peat excavation work currently being carried out at the site by KDC.

The company was granted planning permission to help cap the adjacent landfill site in 2004.

He said: "The original planning permission allowed excavation of peat to an average depth of three metres but in parts of the site they have dug much deeper than that.

"There are also major excavations being undertaken outwith the site boundaries.

"What we have now is a huge hole in the ground. It is a disaster."

Twenty-three streets

And it is not just residents in the local villages who have taken issue with the rail freight development.

Scott Johnston's house faces onto the railway line at Coatbridge junction.

He has written to local politicians and lodged an objection with North Lanarkshire Council about the significant rise in the number of trains that would be passing by his home.

He said: "I moved here three years ago and at the time was given assurances from the local authority that only a small number of trains passed the house each day.

We are working with Scottish Natural Heritage and other bodies to ensure that the environment and the wildlife are protected
Andy Speedie
Kilgrath Development Company

"That has already increased to between 10 and 20, and if the Kilgarth development goes ahead there will be trains running on that line 24-hours a day."

Mr Johnston has studied the route the new trains would take and said residents in 23 streets in Coatbridge would be affected by the increase in rail traffic.

Central Scotland Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell has also written to the council expressing the concerns of residents.

She has visited the site and last month raised concerns at Holyrood about hazardous waste from the adjacent landfill site being unearthed by the excavation work that is going on.

She told the BBC Scotland News website: "I would question the need for this facility, given that there is spare capacity at Eurocentral, and Grangemouth is already developing freight capacity.

"I think there has been a lot of smoke and mirrors as far as this development is concerned. We have been tantalised by the prospect of so many jobs."

She added: "I am asking the local authority to look a little bit deeper, look at other freight facilities with spare capacity in Scotland and ask themselves is there really a need for this facility?"

'Protecting environment'

Officials from North Lanarkshire Council's planning department have agreed to visit the site at Kilgarth before making a final decision on the freight terminal plans.

Andy Speedie from KDC said the company wanted to improve the site for local residents and was working with community councils in the area.

He said: "The site as it currently stands is an eyesore.

"We are working with Scottish Natural Heritage and other bodies to ensure that the environment and the wildlife are protected.

"We will preserve core paths and we will preserve the right for people to exercise their horses. We are also putting in cycle paths and proper walkways."

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