FRESH plans to build a huge rail freight terminal at the former Parkside pit site will face considerable opposition, campaigners have warned.
The Star revealed last week how the vision has been resurrected after St Helens Council and developers Langtree entered talks to buy the site.
Politicians have hailed the news, stating that it could create thousands of jobs and establish St Helens as an important location close to the M6 and West Coast mainline.
However, people who live close to the site fear it will have a huge impact on the quality of their lives and erode swathes of green belt.
David Critchley, who was on the committee of the Parkside Action Group, said: “No-one ever tells the full story. There are several hundred acres of green belt [on the site].
“In the past we have been vilified, saying we don’t care about jobs, but we are ordinary people and our quality of life is important, and this will have an impact on it.
“We have been here before. If it’s going to be like previous proposals it will be huge with access via the motorway. Has anyone seen the M6 at rush hour?
“Lorry drivers won’t sit there in queues, they will go through Newton. We just want someone to talk to us, to show us this is what it’s going to look like and the impact on the town.
“As residents we just want to make our feelings known. We have a point of view. We want to know the health implications and how many HGVs there will be.”
The announcement was met with cautious approval by the Green Party.
St Helens party leader Francis Williams welcomed investment in potential rail facilities to help take freight off the roads and reduce road haulage’s CO2 footprint, but believes there should be detailed consultation and local concerns should be addressed.
He said: “The Parkside site sits in a strategically-important spot where the West Coast Mainline, the M6 and Liverpool-Manchester rail line, with its connection to the port of Liverpool, all converge.
“While the site is within St Helens borough, it also borders Wigan and Warrington, so, if it went ahead, it would likely provide jobs for people from all three boroughs, and farther afield.
“While we support the initiative in principle, we will need to see and comment on detailed plans.
“We sympathise with local concerns over works traffic potentially clogging local roads in the construction phase, and urge that a rail head be established first, so that construction can rely as much on rail as possible.”
He said that once operational HGV access should be direct from the M6 only, and called for a permanent natural barrier along the west to shield the community from construction and operational disturbances.