We can say that man's management of the land must be
primarily orientated towards three goals - health, beauty,
and permanence. E.F. Schumacher, Economist.
A Consortium of one Landowner, a Freight Specialist and a
Financier have put together an audacious proposal to
create a "Strategic Rail Freight Interchange" on
designated Greenbelt and green field agricultural land in
South Staffordshire. It is bordered by the M6
Motorway; the A5 Watling Street; the A449 Wolverhampton to
Stafford Road; and Vicarage Road. Immediately affecting
the South Staffordshire areas of Gailey / Four Ashes /
Calf Heath and indirectly the villages of Coven,
Brewood and the historic market town of Penkridge.
They have called this WMI or West Midlands
It is not in the West Midlands but uses the title as
a marketing tool.
We have used the actual location as designation for the
opposition - since that is where it is.
Navigate the rest of the site via the buttons
on the left for latest news, background and critical
Use the Jargon menu button on the left for
definitions of Green Belt and other specialist
The scale of the proposal is huge. Some 260 Hectares (643
acres) of green belt would be destroyed to site the huge
warehouses, new road & rail links and commercial parking.
The suggested thousands of workers would need to be bused in
from elsewhere. (South Staffs has virtually no unemployment).
Thousands of additional heavy lorries and vans would clog the
already bursting local road system. Two new road islands with
HGV lanes to generate traffic jams on the A5 and A449.
Fourteen gigantic sheds up to 38 metres high (125 ft) !
Large lifting equipment, gantries and intense floodlighting
are all part of scheme.
Noise from HGV movements, reversing sirens, Rail shunting,
Lifting cranes, together with the warning sirens used for
industrial traffic ..... on a 24 hour basis.
A desire by government to promote rail freight (now that
coal transportation has almost disappeared) caused a piece of
planning law to be published that allows proposals for rail
served freight hubs (interchanges) of a certain size, to be
classed as "strategic" and be determined by the Secretary of
State (via his Planning Inspectorate) - bypassing the normal
district and county council planning procedures.
Unfortunately, by leaving the siting of these strategic
developments to market forces and private investors, a number
of completely inappropriate locations have been chosen in a
dash to capitalise on this loophole.
The adjacent expansion of Four Ashes Industrial Estate (the
Bericote site) and a mineral extraction scheme, also act as
wedge driven into the green belt.
Initially there were two options for the site layout -
exhibited in the hope of getting a preferred layout by the
After a private showing to Council Officers just before
Christmas 2016, the layout shown below was advertised as the
final proposal. (The high cost, central railway link option
has been quietly shelved). It may change again in July 2017
when there is a Statutory Public Exhibition.
This project has been secretly prepared for many months before
it was publicly revealed in the May 2016. Since then, there
have been an informal pubic exhibitions in June/July to gauge
and manipulate the public response.
Both the County Council and District Council have been aware
of the project for some time before it was revealed to the
public. Some members ...... much longer!
The timetable is for a formal (statutory) exhibition in July
2017 and the official application to the Secretary of State
and Planning Inspectorate in November 2017.
(see Latest News for the most current dates)