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Ministers pass huge rail freight terminal against reporter’s advice

Words: Roger Milne

Plans for a massive new rail freight terminal at Bellshill in North Lanarkshire have been approved in principle by Scottish ministers.

The decision by ministers went against the recommendation of the reporter from the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals who dealt with the scheme’s appeal.

The proposals for a 'inland port' providing some 200,000 square metres of distribution, service and logistics facilities co-located next to four new 775 metre Euro Standard railway sidings, was refused by the local planning authority.

PD Stirling (PDS), which operates the existing Mossend Railhead in Bellshill, plans to expand the existing facilities by creating what is called the Mossend International Railfreight Park (MIRP).

A government spokesman said: “Having carefully considered the reporter’s report and the issues raised in objections, Scottish ministers have decided to grant planning permission in principle for the expansion of the Mossend Railhead, incorporating industrial and business uses, a Community Green Network and related transport improvements.

"National Planning Framework 3 (NPF3) and Scottish Planning Policy support modal shift of freight transport from road to rail.

"Mossend, along with Coatbridge and Grangemouth, is identified as an important interchange in the central belt.

"Ministers welcome the potential economic benefits of the proposal as well as the opportunity to enhance transport and green infrastructure in the local area.”

The reporter had argued that the project should be refused because of green belt concerns and because the proposals were contrary to the local development plan.

The ministerial decision letter insisted that the loss of green belt land would be partly offset by the proposed community green network.

Ministers concluded that “the contribution of the development to sustainable development, particularly through enabling modal shift of freight transport from road to rail, is a material consideration and taking into account the contribution it will make to carbon savings and the positive impacts on the local economy, the benefits of the application outweigh the conflicts with the development plan”.