Three major rail freight storage and distribution warehouse developments have been proposed in Oxfordshire as part of the Government’s plan to reduce carbon emissions from road transport.

The three warehouse cities lie within roughly a two-kilometre radius of junction 10 on the M40, and all are set to be built on countryside land. The largest of them will see 604,000 metres squared of warehousing and associated infrastructure built to the east of Heyford Park.

This Heyford Park development specifically, comes as an attachment to a new strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI) being planned by Oxfordshire Railfreight Ltd. The rail freight company will begin community consultation on Monday, 9 May.

The other two sites – 278,000 and 325,000 metres squared, respectively - are immediately north of Cherwell Services, around two and a half miles to the north of Bicester. One will be a distribution and manufacturing park, and the other will be warehousing space.  

Because of its strategic importance, the rail freight terminal and its associated warehouse developments meet the criteria to be considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. Which means the proposals will ultimately be decided upon by the Secretary of State for Transport.  

Local planning authorities have no say in whether the development will go ahead or not.

Helen Marshall, Director of The Countryside Charity, Oxfordshire division said: “Our concern with the SRFI proposal is that it would be a major industrialisation of the countryside. It is proposed to be built entirely on greenfield sites and would have enormous impact.

“We support the move of freight from road to rail, but we don’t see that this is the right location in terms of good connections into the rail network. We think it could be an excuse to get a road-based distribution centre pushed through.  

Councillor for Bicester West, John Broad, said that he believes the community consultation being carried out by Oxfordshire Railfreight Ltd is just a tick box exercise: “What can anyone really say about plans for lots of warehouses, and all the road schemes connecting to the M40 that will inevitably come with them.

He added: “The SRFI must connect to a road, and because there’s so many warehouses, there will be massive road infrastructure feeding junction 10 from the sites. Junction 10 will have to be re-developed.”

Additionally, The Countryside Charity state that there are already three SRFIs within a 30-mile radius of the proposed site.

However, a spokesperson for Oxfordshire Railfreight Ltd, said: “The company believes that the OxSRFI site is extremely well located to meet market needs and deliver rail freight services.”




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