#AmazingAccrington has a very real opportunity to support the development of a new East Lancashire Freight Rail Terminal on the site of the former Huncoat Power Station. Some infrastructure is already in place, and the area is ready for further development. Bringing a freight rail terminal to East Lancashire will tie into levelling up plans, give an economic boost to the region, and create cost, resource and carbon savings for businesses.
The World Economic Forum estimates e-commerce could rise from 19.2 per cent to 53 per cent of all goods purchased by 2028. The UK government plan for a zero-emissions economy emphasised the importance of dedicated distribution hubs, served by rail. The increase in goods being delivered, plus the urgent need to reduce road traffic, mean that freight rail volume is projected to treble by 2050. In 2019 only 8% of domestic freight was moved by rail.
The East Lancashire Freight Terminal will be a game changing opportunity for development. The historic power station site has disused freight rail sidings, and the surrounding land is already designated for future freight rail development. It is ideally located in the centre of East Lancashire’s industry, engineering and aerospace, in between the existing rail and road network.
Speaking at an #AmazingAccrington business leaders meeting in September, Daniel Cochlin, head of external affairs at Northern Powerhouse, indicated that the future of the East Lancashire Freight Rail Terminal lies with local businesses and business leaders, who right across the region, can pull together to turn the plans into reality, rather than looking at The Northern Powerhouse, the answer is what can businesses do for The Northern Powerhouse.
A meeting was held on Friday, 26th November, to discuss how to progress to the next stage, which would be an economic feasibility study. The purpose of this is to establish the facts of the great benefit to the region, and the private sector development opportunity.
#AmazingAccrington business leaders met to discuss the plans, including representatives from Studio, the area’s largest employer, the Department for International Trade, Hyndburn Borough Council, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Northern Automotive Alliance, Chamber of Commerce East Lancs and many businesses who would welcome a freight rail terminal.
They watched a new video outlining the opportunity, then heard from Debbie Francis OBE, Chair of the LEP, who was the key speaker and comes from a background in rail freight, as well as Miranda Barker, Chair of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce & Industry, as they outlined how to access funding and formulate a business case for the project to be able to take it forward.
Debbie Francis OBE, added, “The leaders have been really interested in the subject, are clearly behind it and can see how it is going to benefit them and the area.
“We’ve had difficult conversations because there has been an awful lot of change in what might happen with transport networks and everyone is aware of that.
“We are trying to find our way through those conversations and thinking about how we make everybody see that this is it, as well as how do we get the money that’s going to be needed to create the business case that shows the value that this is going to give.
“There has been some really innovative thinking, some really great ideas coming out from people and a lot of real interest and commitment from the area.”
Miranda Barker, said: “It’s important for the competitiveness of our businesses, they need to export their freight to Europe and to the world, and we’re just too expensive and too slow right now.
“We need this to make sure the UK can compete and to make sure we are decarbonising our transport system. If we move containers from road to rail, we save 76% of the carbon emissions. It makes sense on so many fronts and we need this campaign to build.”
Sara Britcliffe, MP for Hyndburn and Haslingden added: “One of the things I’ve been working on is, I want to attract businesses, not just to Hyndburn but the whole of the North West. Something like this project would just bring so many jobs and many opportunities to our borough. It will improve life prospects for our children. It will give them the jobs, and skills that they need for the future.”
Murray Dawson, Chair of Amazing Accrington and MD of Scott Dawson Advertising, commented: “The new Freight Rail Terminal will be transformational for the local economy and unlock so much more development. Businesses are calling out for this to help them grow, reduce costs and reduce carbon emissions – it is urgently needed.
“It looks like business leaders will need to be the catalyst in this, so it was refreshing to see them pledge hard earned cash on the day – if we can raise £50k, £1k x 50 businesses, then I am confident the LCC and local authority will also contribute so we can do the economic study to support the development. Cheques are already coming in and just short of £10k has already been committed.”
You can see the video for yourself on the #AmazingAccrington website here: