Hinckley National Rail Freight Interchange

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 11th February 2020.

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Photo of Alberto Costa Alberto Costa Conservative, South Leicestershire 4:00 pm, 11th February 2020

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. As I mentioned a moment ago, at times the existing infrastructure is already at capacity. For three or four years we have been discussing dualling the A5 all the way to the M1, and that has not yet happened—there are safety issues with the A5. My constituents—and, no doubt, my hon. Friend’s constituents—are concerned that the proposal will add to a road system that is frankly not equipped to take such an extremely large amount of proposed HGV traffic.

As I have said, my constituents in the Fosse villages contend with overburdened infrastructure at the best of times. Furthermore, the proximity of the site to the existing logistics hubs in Leicestershire is paramount. Magna Park is one of Europe’s largest logistics parks and is proposed to double in size. It is near the market town of Lutterworth, only a few miles south of the constituency of my hon. Friend Dr Evans, while the proposed rail hub would be only a few miles north. To give hon. Members an idea of the sheer size of Magna Park, its footprint is directly comparable to, and perhaps larger than, that of Lutterworth. The existing logistics park is enormous—particularly if it doubles in size—so another large logistics park, developed under the guise of a rail freight head terminal, would be problematic and grossly unfair to people who like the quality of life in that part of Leicestershire.

I appreciate the strategic importance of sites, such as Magna Park and the proposed interchange, situated in the so-called golden triangle—the intersection of the M1, M69 and M6 motorways—meaning that about 80% of the British population can be reached within five hours. However, some deeply concerning factors must be considered. The environmental impact of the proposal has been at the fore of many of my constituents’ concerns, and the plans are to concrete over the existing site, which is beautiful rolling countryside of lush green fields stretching as far as the eye can see.

Anyone standing in those glorious South Leicestershire fields today would quite easily spot the nearby local nature reserve of Burbage common, most of which is located in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth. If I may speak for my hon. Friend, the common is a 200-acre mix of semi-natural woodlands and unspoiled grassland that is used daily not just by his constituents, but by mine, for walking, horse-riding, exploring and orienteering. Quite frankly, I am more than a little jealous that the common sits in his constituency, but as he knows, we might have a boundary review, and I know what I will be asking for.