A CONTROVERSIAL plan to build a rail freight interchange in the green belt could be revived after developers took their fight to the High Court.
Goodman Logistics Development (UK) Ltd is asking a judge to order the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to reconsider its proposal for the Slough International Freight Exchange (SIFE), on land north of the A4 Colnbrook Bypass.
It comes after Goodman’s appeal against the original 2015 decision was rejected by the government last July.
The scheme would provide a terminal where freight can be transferred from rail to road, and vice versa, as well as significant warehousing space, a connection to the Colnbrook branch line, and road and junction works, including on the A4 Colnbrook bypass, Junction 5 of the M4, and Junction 14 of the M25.
However, the massive site is part of the Metropolitan Green Belt and designated as a “strategic gap” in Slough Borough Council’s Local Plan.
The Secretary of State gave “very substantial weight” in his decision to protecting the Green Belt.
Residents have been against the plan due to its green belt location and air quality issues.
Goodman claims the decision to reject its planning application was “unlawful”, arguing that national policy had identified a “compelling need” for an expanded network of such interchanges.
Because of the clear argument in favour of them, it says that green belt land will inevitably have to be used to serve London and the South East.
It says that the Secretary of State failed to apply Local Plan policy properly and failed to give adequate reasons explaining his decision, particularly in the absence of any identified alternative site in the area.
Lawyers representing the government argue it was entitled to make the decision it did last July and that it should be upheld.
The judge is expected to give a decision in writing at a later date.
Sean Kelly, of Colnbrook Residents’ Association, said: “We are dead against it but unfortunately the judge is going to make the final decision.”