A CAMPAIGN has been launched for a ‘game-changing’ billion-pound development which could revolutionise the future of East Lancashire.

Business leaders and politicians from across the county have been holding meetings to discuss the creation of an East Lancashire Freight Terminal, which would be situated on the site of the former Huncoat Power Station and could set the area in place for a ‘massive’ economic boost. 

Land in and around the power station has already been designated for future rail use with some infrastructure in place from years gone by – making it the perfect location for the ‘transformational’ project. 

However to move plans along and to achieve success, local business owners and leaders will have to get behind the plan.

Sara Britcliffe, MP for Hyndburn and Haslingden, said of the plans: “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.”

Speaking at an Amazing Accrington business leaders meeting in September, Daniel Cochlin, head of external affairs at Northern Powerhouse, said that the future of the plan will lie in the hands of local businesses and leaders who will need to pull together to turn the dream into reality.

A further meeting was then held on November 26 to discuss how to progress to the next stage, which would comprise an economic feasibility study.

Representatives from Studio, the area’s largest employer, the Department for International Trade, Hyndburn Borough Council, the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Northern Automotive Alliance, and Chamber of Commerce East Lancs were all in attendance. 

Debbie Francis, chair of the LEP said: “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.”

Miranda Barker, from the Chamber of Commerce, 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 per cent of the carbon emissions. It makes sense on so many fronts and we need this campaign to build.”

Murray Dawson, chair of Amazing Accrington and MD of Scott Dawson Advertising, said: “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 county council 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 £10,000 has already been committed.”