MP opposes rail freight depot

Thursday, 7 June, 2007

AN MP has launched a petition opposing major plans for a new 24-hour container depot near Stowmarket.

Mid Suffolk District Council is considering whether to grant outline planning permission for the distribution park next to the A1120 at Creeting St Peter.

If approved, the project would take five years to complete and include warehousing, container storage areas and rail sidings. Developers say it will create new jobs for local people.

But Fred Hillyer, a co-ordinator for the Cedars Park Residents Association, said: 'Our estate is 100 metres from away from this and there are 1,800 homes here now. We are gearing up to really have a go at this.

'I am really worried about 24-hour traffic, it will completely wreck Stowmarket. It will ruin our quality of life.'

MP David Ruffley, who represents Stowmarket as part of his Bury St Edmunds constituency, is visiting the site tomorrow to hear residents' views and to see the potential impact the proposed scheme would have.

He said: 'I opposed this proposed development when it was first mooted in 2003 and I oppose it now. I share the concerns of local people about having a facility of this nature on their doorstep.

'Of course commercial development is necessary but a degree of common sense must be employed when deciding on a location. This site, so close to the Cedars Park estate, is not suitable for a scheme of this nature.

'This scheme will generate additional HGV traffic on the A14, together with vastly increased noise and pollution. Questions need to be asked about how environmentally friendly this initiative is.'

Mr Ruffley also questioned whether new jobs created - possibly more than 1,000 - would be for local people.

But Bidwells, acting for SMMDP Ltd (Stowmarket Multi Modal Distribution Park Ltd) of Norwich, said a depot would create new jobs on a site that is strategically located near to the A14 and the railway line.

He said the vast majority of freight is currently moved around the region by road, which is bad for the environment and leads to road congestion, and the new development creates an opportunity for a road and rail operation, seven days a week.

A spokeswoman for the district council said the application is currently within a 13 week consultation period and will go before councillors at a later date.