What do you think the Directors of Ashfield Land see when they gaze across Milton Vale? Does Andrew Fisher, Managing Director and founder, see 650 acres of beautiful productive farmland; or is he, perhaps, visualising his new holiday villa in the south of France? What do you think is in James Digby’s mind when he eyes the scores of veteran trees and miles of ancient hedgerows: his new Maserati perhaps? And does Claire Cope see the varied and plentiful wildlife: the multiple species of bats; birds and plant life; or is she, maybe, planning her next move up the property ladder? One thing is certain: none of them see (or maybe chose not to see) the lives that are inextricably linked with this unique and important piece of open countryside. The lives of the people who have made their homes here, many of whom had expected to see out their remaining days in peaceful tranquillity, un-accosted by the outside forces that wish to possess, exploit and destroy the environment for their own personal gain.
Baker Rose Consulting LLP have provided a professional view on the viability of Rail Central proposal: commissioned in January 2016 by SRC Ltd.
Extracts from Keith Barrow’s “Brexit, coal collapse and capacity issues add to British rail freight woes” published in this months International Railway Journal.
THESE are difficult times for Britain’s rail freight industry. Statistics published by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) on May 19 show the total amount of freight lifted in the 2015-16 financial year fell 22.2% to 86 million tonnes, its lowest level since 1984-85, when the Miner’s Strike led to an 85.5% drop in coal traffic. The total volume of freight moved in 2015-16 declined by 17.8 billion tonne-km, a 20% reduction.
It’s like buses. You spend your whole life trying to avoid one Rail Freight Interchange and then two come along at the same time. Like me, you may well be asking yourselves “What could we possibly have done to deserve two RFIs being visited upon us, and what does it all mean?”
After 6 months of research SRC now have a good understanding of the legal and practical aspects of the Planning Act 2008 and the associated policies and procedures relating to RFIs. This has allowed us to progress from being “NIMBYs” to at least being “informed NIMBYs” and enabling us to put forward our views not only from the perspective of community interest and self preservation but also from a “nationally strategic” perspective.
Those of you that listened to James Digby of Ashfield Land being interviewed on the Radio Northampton Breakfast show on Thursday morning might have heard him almost make a massive faux pas. When unexpectedly questioned about his views on the recently revealed plans by Roxhill to build a competing terminal right next door to his development James began to say “I cannot comment on whether their scheme is in the right loc…” In the nick of time, realising that the scheme is in exactly the same location as Ashfield’s (albeit in a slightly less intrusive position), he quickly retracted and reverted to the old favourite “it’s on different timelines”. It is worth remembering that of the 15 alternative sites put forward in their environmental assessment, the only one that was actually viable as alternative to Rail Central was this very site which now competes directly with Rail Central. Oh the irony.
With the sole purpose of a Rail Freight Interchange being to facilitate a switch of freight from road onto rail one would have thought that the first thing to establish would be whether or not there were actually any freight paths available to facilitate this shift. Well, apparently not. Having been incredibly frustrated by the absence of any information on the rail aspect of Rail Central at the public exhibitions, SRC put a Freedom of Information (FOI) Request into Network Rail to try to find out what Ashfield Land have been doing. SRC’s ultimate goal is to establish whether this proposed development can ever help the government achieve its high level aspiration of a modal shift from road to rail. So what did we find out?
On the 4th January 2016 Blisworth Village hall was inundated by concerned residents having just heard of plans to develop the open countryside separating their village from Milton Malsor and Northampton beyond. The only reason that anyone knew about this meeting in the first place was that residents of Blisworth had, by chance, viewed the application on the Planning Inspectorate web site and decided to leaflet drop the village. Whilst the effect on the village as a whole would be devastating enough, for those living right in the middle of this massive logistics park, life would be a whole lot worse. Given the fact that these people might lose their homes one would have thought that they might have had some advance warning of this developer’s intent? Not so. At the January meeting a lady stood up and demanded to know what would happen to her Mother and Grandmother who have lived in the family home in the middle of the proposed site for over 60 years. The developer, Ashfield Land, was unable or unwilling to tell this poor family anything. So what is the situation over 5 months on? Given that they have been planning this for over three years you would probably have expected Ashfield Land to have, by now, given some indication of whether their home will be safe, whether it is likely to be compulsorily purchased from under them or, maybe even worse still, they get stuck in the middle of a 24 hour rail operation with noise light and air pollution in a house that there is no possibility of selling. Well the unfortunate truth is that they have still heard nothing.
Below is a link to out YouTube Channel where you will find a short video recently recorded showing a traffic jam on the A43 between Towcester and M1 Jct 15a.
The Office of National Statistics released population projections on the 25th May 2016 that cover the period 2016 – 2039. The highlight of the projection is the increase in population over the age of 65. Whilst the overall population of South Northamptonshire is expected to rise from 89,000 currently to 101,000 by 2036, the working age population (15-64) is expected to remain at 55,000 for the next 20 years.
We can therefore conclude that the 8000 jobs claimed by Ashfield Land will not be taken up by residents of South Northamptonshire.
Over the same period, the population of Northampton is expected to increase from 224,000 to 263,000. The working age population is expected to increase from 147,000 to 162,000 by 2036, requiring the creation of approximately 15,000 jobs.
The current proportion of logistics jobs in Northampton is about 10%, reflecting the diversity of talent and vocation in the population. Not everyone wants to work in logistics.
Ashfield Land claim the 8,000 jobs are new. Adding 8000 jobs would represent a 55% increase in the Northampton logistics sector. If correct, then the project is of a scale that would provide over half of the required employment for additional residents of Northampton.
However, if the current preferences for employment are maintained, then less than a thousand of these jobs will be taken up by Northampton residents.
The balance of ca. 7000 will travel to Rail Central from further afield, probably in cars.
Where is the sustainability in that?
But if, as Stop Rail Central suspects, the 8000 jobs are not new, but are in fact relocated from the less shiny industrial estates North East of Northampton as companies consolidate their operations in RC’s massive sheds, then another picture emerges.
Northampton’s warehouses are spreading South, clearing the way for redevelopment of older, urban-edge industrial estates as housing for the full 40,000 extra souls they’ll have to provide for.
Tony our managing director is try to raise funds for Stop Rail Central. He is aiming to raise as much money as possible to support the campaign to Stop Rail Central, He will be jumping out of a plane 25th June 2016 @ 12.30.
This huge development will destroy the countryside in Northampton between the villages of Blisworth & Milton Malsor.
See our story at our crowd funding page or view our website with more information www.stoprailcentral.co.uk