Government accused of forcing through huge post-Brexit lorry park in Cheshire

The Government has been accused of railroading a post-Brexit lorry park in Appleton Thorn through without adequate consultation as fears mount over the scheme. It has acquired the former Shearings interchange site for use as an 24/7 inland border control point for heavy goods vehicles from January 1. But it is using a piece of legislation which overrides local planning decisions and ensures planning consent in the normal way is not required.

Warrington’s Liberal Democrats say large numbers of lorries will be using Junction 20 off the M6 to access ports at Liverpool and Heysham 24/7, with planning permission to be in place for a minimum of two years and possibly four. The local party has criticised the Government.

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Cllr Sharon Harris said: “A few councillors attended a special briefing by HMRC. “We learned that 824 households in Appleton, Stretton, Grappenhall and Thelwall will receive a letter and an information pack but have only 14 days to respond to the consultation.

“These residents may be the ones most affected but the impact on the wider area is dreadful. “This is not a real consultation and I fear the Government is just going through the legal motions. “There will be a massive impact on congestion and air pollution which will be much worse if the secretary of state approves the Eddie Stobart planning application which he has been sitting on for months.”

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Cllr Judith Wheeler says she understands there could be at least 69 HGVs on site for an hour or two at any one time.

“Exactly what routes they will use is unclear,” she said. “It is also unclear whether lorries will have to queue or whether they will be allocated timed slots. “We will be pressing hard for mitigation to safeguard residents.”

Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, added: “As leader of the opposition on the council and a councillor for Lymm North and Thelwall ward, which lies within a few hundred metres of the affected route, I am very angry that I was not allowed to attend the briefing. “I have written to the leader of the council to find out who made this decision.” But Conservative Warrington South MP Andy Carter has defended the plans.

He said: “This is a temporary inland port, on an existing industrial estate, which will bring up 460 well paid HMRC and border force jobs to the area at a time when job prospects in the wider economy are challenging to say the least. “There are thousands sq ft of empty warehouse space on the Barleycastle and Appleton Thorn trading estates, HGV movements are down significantly even compared with 12 month earlier because of the closure of the likes of Travis Perkins and Shearings. “This is not a green belt site, it’s a former coach interchange next to the motorway and it lends itself to re-purposing as national infrastructure.

“There are already HGV restrictions on accessing the trading estates through the villages of Stretton and Appleton Thorn and I’ve raised with the project director the need to add more measures and signage so that lorries only use the M6 junction 20.”

For further information or to take part in the consultation, click here.

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