Business leaders have pledged funds to support the development of a new East Lancashire Freight Rail Terminal on the site of a former power station.

Supporters of the project say the historic site in Huncoat is ‘ideally located in the centre of East Lancashire’s industry, engineering and aerospace’, in between the existing rail and road network.

The site covers 22 acres, with an estimated £200million cost to develop, which would involve private sector investment.

Plans have now moved up a gear including the appointment of a project consultant and an economic feasibility study which is expected by the end of June.

Businesses pledging money to the project include Just Taps, Coach House, First Tunnels, Cardboard Box Company, Emerson & Renwick, Globe Enterprises, Hyndburn Borough Council, Northwest Logistics, Sundown Solutions, Witch Group, Scott Dawson Advertising, Langtec, HML Recycling and Fagan & Whalley.

The project, which could create 2,825 jobs in the local area, has also received support from MP for Hyndburn and Haslingden, Sara Britcliffe, chief executive of East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Miranda Barker and chair of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Debbie Francis OBE.

Ms Francis said: “This is a business project which I have been staying very close to, providing advice from the rail sector and the feasibility study will provide an extremely interesting read.

“I am keen to build and improve corridors of transport in the north, and the LEP fully supports this project and its exciting plans.”

Ms Barker said: “Regionally this is an unbelievable opportunity for everyone, especially our local businesses and we are doing everything we can to help push on these plans, which will have a hugely significant impact on the North West for decades to come.

“It gives our businesses the opportunity to move their goods in a more cost effective, competitive and less environmentally damaging way, but also be part of the supply chain to build the infrastructure, and that is unlocking the potential of East Lancashire and its industry, not just for the North West, but for the UK as a whole.”

Miss Britcliffe added: “The employment opportunities which would come from this project would be unbelievable for our borough and it could transform so many people’s lives, from businesses to our children.”

Murray Dawson, Chair of Amazing Accrington and MD of Scott Dawson Advertising, said: “Freight rail is estimated to treble by 2050 and with our amazing businesses needing room and the opportunity to grow, we need to facilitate that. We can’t thank everyone enough who has pledged financial support for the feasibility study."