Page last updated at 18:55 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Port plan 'should not be delayed'

Drawing of the proposed development
The Highways Agency is currently considering the plan

The government has promised to do all it can to "fast-track" a decision on a proposed inland port that would create up to 5,500 jobs in South Yorkshire.

Doncaster Council has approved plans for the port near Rossington, but some highways issues are yet to be resolved.

Local MPs said the scheme should not be delayed by being "called in" for the secretary of state to decide on.

The transport minister said local planning decisions were not interfered with unless absolutely necessary.

Developers Helioslough said the site, alongside the now derelict Rossington Colliery, would provide a holding place for freight brought in by sea in containers before their contents are broken down into smaller units and distributed.

We would not want to unnecessarily slow down something that is so strategically important not just to [Ms Flint's] constituency but potentially to the whole region and beyond
Shahid Malik
Transport minister

For the scheme to go ahead, road access from the M18 would need to be constructed and linked to the proposed new road to Robin Hood Airport, so the Highways Agency is now considering the scheme and will report to the government in March.

Don Valley MP Caroline Flint told parliament the principal objectors to the scheme were now the Campaign to Protect Rural England and four parish councils.

She said the outstanding issues could be resolved locally, and urged the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) not to delay the project by calling it in for a decision from the secretary of state.

Caroline Flint
Ms Flint said the project would help sustain former mining communities

Ms Flint added: "It is a development that is directly accessible from a former mining community where there are high levels of deprivation, including employment deprivation, that still exists and where future alternative prospects are limited unless we get development and the right development to sustain these communities."

Ms Flint was backed by Jeff Ennis, MP for Barnsley East and Mexborough, who said the project would allow towns affected by pit closures "to further diversify their economy".

Transport Minister Shahid Malik said once the Highways Assessment was complete he would "do all within my power to make sure that this is fast-tracked as quickly as possible so that you can have a decision about whether it ought to be called in or not".

He said only 0.01% of planning applications were called in for the secretary of state to decide on personally and the DCLG did not interfere with local planning decisions unless absolutely necessary.

"We would not want to unnecessarily slow down something that is so strategically important not just to [Ms Flint's] constituency but potentially to the whole region and beyond," Mr Malik said.



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