Film student produces documentary about plight of Northamptonshire villages affected by huge rail depot plans

The campaign by villagers to fight against two proposals for rail depots on land south of Northampton has been featured in a mini-documentary produced by film students from the University of Creative Arts in Farnham in Surrey.

Saturday, 21st July 2018, 7:11 am
Should both proposal be approved, the land between Milton Malsor, Collingtree, Roade and Blisworth would almost entirely be occupied by the SRFIs

The film, directed by Northampton-born Dan Wood and made with the help of his classmates, features interviews with residents of the villages affected by the two proposals to build 'strategic rail freight interchanges' (SRFI) on land between Milton Malsor, Collingtree, Roade and Blisworth.

Mr Wood first learned about the Stop Rail Central and Stop Roxhill campaigns when visiting his uncle in Blisworth.

"He told me about the plans," said 21-year-old Mr Wood, who grew up in Kingsthorpe.

Should both proposal be approved, the land between Milton Malsor, Collingtree, Roade and Blisworth would almost entirely be occupied by the SRFIs

"I decided it's about time I learned more about it and understood more about it.

"So we started talking to local residents and got in touch with Stop Rail Central."

One proposal, known as The Northampton Gateway SRFI, would comprise of a rail freight terminal with rail sidings, a gantry crane and container storage area, up to 468,000sq metres of warehousing with vehicle access via the A508, proposed highway works including a redesign of junction 15 of the M1 and a new A508 bypass for Roade.

Submitted by Roxhill Ltd, the proposal is separate from a similar one submitted by Ashfield Land Management for another rail freight terminal, known as Rail Central SRFI, on adjoining land at Arm Farm between Milton Malsor and Blisworth.

If both proposals are approved the Northamptonshire countryside would be drastically altered with residents facing the prospect of being confronted by huge warehouses metres away from their homes.VIDEO AND PICTURES: Images show how rail depot in Northamptonshire countryside could measure up next to villages

Both sets of developers have justified their proposals as "significant national infrastructure" which support a policy of getting freight off the road and onto rail - rather than framing them as just another warehouse park.

As a result, their plans have been dealt with at a national level by the Planning Inspectorate - whose Infrastructure Planning Unit is responsible for nationally significant infrastructure projects.

Stop Rail Central campaigner Mark Redding, who features in the film, said: "The development of Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges is promoted by the Government with a view to helping to achieve their high-level aspirations of carbon reduction and of removing freight from our over-crowded roads.

"This admirable objective can only be achieved if such developments are located strategically across the regions (not all in one region) and on parts of the rail and road network that have the capacity to accommodate them.

"The policy guidance is also quite clear in stating that the location should have access to a sufficient pool of local labour (to reduce the miles travelled to work).

"None of these fundamental prerequisites exist in South Northants.

"The local community and industry professionals alike are of the opinion that the location chosen by both Northampton Gateway and Rail Central for the siting of their SRFIs does not possess the attributes that will facilitate the shift of freight onto the rail network nor reduce the miles travelled on the road network.

"The fact that most freight will travel by road is of no concern to either developer whose interest is merely in the generation of profit from warehouse development.

"The fact that there are two Developers competing to build concurrent and adjacent SRFIs is strong evidence that they do not have the national benefit as their primary objective.

"Notwithstanding the nonsense of their strategic arguments, there are many local residents whose lives would be destroyed should the proposals proceed."

Roxhill Ltd and Ashfield Land Management have been approached for comment.