The Government has given the green light to a new mainline station next to Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station. It will be run by Midland Mainline as a park-and-ride station with spaces for 1,000 cars. Rushcliffe Borough Council gave their support in January.
The station is in the green belt and in the River Soar floodplain. Developers have stated that they will see it as a 'transport node' which could act as a focus for business and housing development in the green belt. FOE described it as a 'Trojan Horse'.
The station was also opposed by a number of other groups including Council for Protection of Rural England, Transport 2000 (Leics), National Trust, Ramblers Association, Pedals, Wings, Charnwood Borough Council and Thrumpton Parish Meeting.
When the station is built it is likely that Loughborough Station will be downgraded and High Speed Trains will no longer stop there.
The main aim of the station is to encourage people to drive their cars out along the A453 into the green belt to catch trains to London or Sheffield, instead of taking public transport into the existing stations at Nottingham or Derby. This will cause more traffic on the A453. It is likely to lead to more pressure for roadbuilding, not less.
There have been claims that the station will serve East Midlands Airport. But Midland Mainline have admitted that this is not realistic. The airport is four miles away, the other side of Junction 24 of the M1. There is already a bus link to the airport from Loughborough Station, and a direct rail link to the airport is likely in the longer term.
The Government has recently published new planning guidance* for park-and-ride schemes in the green belt.
This lays down a number of conditions. Proposals should be:
developed as an integral part of local planning and transport strategy;
included in the Local Transport Plan and where possible in the Development Plan;
based on a thorough assessment of travel impacts;
considered within the regional transport and planning context;
avoid encouraging additional travel by car.
None of these apply to the Parkway proposal. In spite of this, the Government has decided not to call a public inquiry.
(* See PPG13, para 60 and Annex E - download from DTLR website.)