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Anti-depot campaign gets backing

PUBLISHED: 02:01 10 June 2003 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 March 2010

ALMOST 500 people have backed campaigners in their opposition to a major £50 million rail freight depot being built in the centre of the county.

But developers argue they are investing millions of pounds, creating hundreds of jobs, and they say concerns will be answered as they carry out an environmental impact assessment.

ALMOST 500 people have backed campaigners in their opposition to a major £50 million rail freight depot being built in the centre of the county.

But developers argue they are investing millions of pounds, creating hundreds of jobs, and they say concerns will be answered as they carry out an environmental impact assessment.

Because of a shortage of land near the dockside at the expanding Port of Felixstowe, developers want to use land next to the A1120 at Creeting St Peter near Stowmarket for the depot and warehouse.

It has been estimated the move could create 500 jobs and Mid Suffolk District Council has received an outline planning application for the site, which would also have offices and other buildings.

GB Railways Plc, whose London-based subsidiary GB Railfreight Ltd takes on major freight haulage contracts from Felixstowe, has identified the need for a depot near the port.

This would allow containers to be swiftly removed from the congested dockside and roads, creating somewhere for them to be sorted and repackaged for onward transit.

But the move sparked enormous opposition, with an action group "ACAC'' or Action Committee Against Containers, launched to fight the development.

Now the district council has received 500 letters against the development and just two in favour. Many people have also signed a petition against the plan.

People are concerned about damage to the Gipping Valley, increased pollution and the likelihood of more trucks and cars on the access roads, the A1120 and the A14.

ACAC member David Llewellyn, from the Cedar's Park estate in Stowmarket, said: "I am not at all surprised by the level of opposition. We are contacting people from environmental groups, the Suffolk Preservation Society, lobbying MPs, lining up our guns to get ready to deal with this.''

GB Railfreight's development partner and applicant for the planning application Richard Turner, of Stowmarket Multi-Modal Distribution Park, said he was surprised by the number of objectors and questioned whether people had fully considered the benefits the multi-million investment would bring.

He said Stowmarket is vulnerable if one of the limited number of major employers ever closed and this would create jobs lasting several generations for people.

"This new investment, on a scale not seen anywhere else in the county except in Felixstowe, and will require a range of skills that will safeguard hundreds of jobs in the town over several generations.''

A spokeswoman for Mid Suffolk District Council said they have not yet received an environmental impact assessment from the applicant and until it does so no decision can be made.

She said residents are still able to raise their concerns or give support to the application until the assessment is received by the council.

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