Alberto denounced plans by developer Tritax Symmetry at open floor Planning Hearing for the proposed rail logistics hub Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange (HNRFI).
Held at the Leonardo Hotel Hinckley Island, MPs Alberto Costa and Luke Evans (MP for Hinckley and Bosworth) and a number of interested parties make their case to the Planning Inspectorate Examining Authority who will produce a report and recommendation to the Secretary of State on the outcome of the development. The proposed rail hub is of such scale that it is considered 'nationally significant', bypassing local authority planners and going all the way to the Government to decide.
Both Mr Costa and Dr Luke Evans gave scathing accounts of the proposed development and were followed by residents, interest groups and councillors including Cllr Maggie Wright and Cllr Terry Richardson (leader of Blaby District Council) who all made arguments against HNRFI going ahead.
Mr Costa raised concern that the Applicant has not completed accurate or timely transport modelling, which he claimed "delegitimised much of the public consultation phase and cost valuable time and money for stakeholders such as Blaby District Council."
Mr Costa argued that key stakeholders and residents have been expected to make representations on proposals from the Applicant (Tritax Symmetry) which are "lacking in substance and accuracy."
Alberto Costa MP went on to argue that there are “significant deficiencies” in the Applicant’s assessment of traffic and barrier downtime at Narborough Level Crossing, about which residents are concerned the development will lead to excessive disruption to the level crossing.
In a recent submission, the Tritax Symmetry assured the Examining Authority it would submit details of a video survey of the traffic queues caused by the current level crossing barrier downtime at Narborough. Mr Costa however pointed out that the Applicant’s recent survey was conducted on dates that coincide with local school half term holidays which "cannot be considered representative of a ‘normal’ week."
Numerous parties pointed out that the South Leicestershire rail line is not a main line able to accommodate 750m long freight trains. Mr Costa echoed the words of John Harrison (from Friends of Narborough Station) pointing out that there are only two tracks, “no refuges, no passing loops and no facilities for bi-directional working. Put simply, it means that any breakdown or other incident, could close the line for hours or days.”
Mr Costa went on to talk about constituents' concerns about the overburdening of local infrastructure in the surrounding villages. Referring to a large map he pointed out the large number of significant development projects in the area arguing that the people of South Leicestershire are not NIMBYs, and have accepted their fair share of housing and logistics parks.
Reflecting on the Open Floor Hearing Alberto said
"It's clear from today, and indeed all of this week's planning hearings that the residents are opposed to this development, but more importantly there are major flaws in the Tritax Symmetry's planning application which show how problematic HNRFI would be to the environment, local infrastructure and noise levels."