I beg to move,
That this House
has considered transport infrastructure for proposed development of large logistics parks.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Bone. I thank hon. Members for attending the debate.
The need to transport essential supplies and other consumer goods around the United Kingdom has spurred the demand for large distribution parks, especially in my constituency of South Leicestershire and around the midlands. Property developers have responded by lodging an increasing volume of applications with local planning authorities, many of which are small and insufficiently resourced to deal with such large-scale proposals and the infrastructure required to support them. Often, the applications comprise large land-takes—many of greenfield sites and rural areas where there is little culture of planning across different authority boundaries, even between neighbouring authorities. As a result, there is a need for a co-ordinating national policy specifically governing the development of these large logistics parks.
The logistics industry has expanded over the past 20 years —not only to supply retail outlets, but to satisfy the boom in internet shopping, with which most hon. Members are well familiar. This year, online retailers such as Amazon and others account for one third of the warehousing property development market, with supermarkets accounting for one quarter. Currently, 80% of costs of all goods are transport costs, even before taking into account on-costs of infrastructure maintenance, the environmental costs of traffic congestion or, indeed, the health-related costs of air pollution. A recent World Bank report stated that congestion on UK roads is the worst in Europe, and the UK has the highest percentage of premature deaths owing to poor quality and polluted air.
The Government have defined a national policy, preferring the development of rail-based freight terminals and seeking to minimise fossil fuel based road transport. For example, the Daventry International Railfreight Terminal close to the M1 in Northamptonshire, and near Rugby in Warwickshire and Lutterworth in my constituency, is a major development entering its third planned phase. Further planned developments are taking place at East Midlands Gateway with airport and rail connections, and near Hinckley, with a planned rail depot. Despite all that, there has been a proliferation of distribution centres reliant on road transport, notably in my South Leicestershire constituency and in adjacent constituencies. As the infrastructure rarely aligns with the speculative development of land-based centres, roads and highways are frequently under strain owing to the volume of traffic they now carry.
As there is no national policy of locating distribution centres to match essential regional needs for longer-term economic development, there continues to be what I call the piecemeal development of many road-based sites. At a local level, there is little integration of inter-authority planning for optimum locations. Such unplanned development leads to increased volumes of traffic on local roads. The resulting traffic congestion leads to delays and queues at key junctions, disrupting citizens’ day-to-day travel to work, school and health facilities. As a constituency MP, I experience this congestion when I take my daughter to school. I see hundreds of heavy goods vehicles every week and I have witnessed accidents involving HGVs in and around the Magna Park area.