On the outskirts of Salford, up by Barton Aerodrome, the tranquil surroundings of the canal and farmland are about to be transformed into a fume ridden, concrete jungle as Peel Holdings' plans for the quaint sounding Port Salford move forward.
In Peel's own words, Port Salford will be "A comprehensive inland international terminal…to be developed on a 70 hectare site, with a railhead capable of handling eight container trains a day, an integral barge feeder terminal…plus 150,000sq m of rail connected warehousing and 15 hectares of container storage capacity…"
The scheme is massive and will see new rail tracks cutting through the land land, zillions of lorries thundering down the road and goods warehouses slapped all over the landscape, while Barton Aerodrome, now re-titled `City Airport Manchester' by Peel, will see increased flights. All this next door to the new Salford City Reds Stadium, if it ever gets built.
Just across Liverpool Road from Port Salford is a huge area of quiet Grade 1 agricultural land which can support endangered birds like the Yellow Wagtail, Reed Bunting and the wintering Stonechat. It's here, and the adjoining golf club, that Salford Council is proposing to "release" 40 hectares of Salford's Green Belt for "employment land" or industrial warehousing, via its new draft Core Strategy.
"The Barton location would be attractive to modern businesses, taking advantage of infrastructure improvements (sic) proposed as part of the Port Salford development. However it would involve the loss of primarily Grade 1 agricultural land and/or part of a golf course…" states the Strategy…
And in almost the next paragraph, er, adds "…It will therefore be very important to protect, enhance and increase the varied `green' assets in the city such as the countryside (including the Green Belt)…This green infrastructure also has a wide variety of other functions that need to be supported, including providing recreational opportunities, supporting wildlife, providing attractive walking and cycling routes, mitigating flood risk, providing relief from higher temperatures associated with climate change, and mitigating air and water pollution…Consequently the enhancement of Salford's green infrastructure is given a high priority in the Core Strategy…"
The hypocrisy is staggering. The Council's own Assessment of its Core Strategy adds "The development of some sites could result in a loss of habitat and/or increased disturbance to wildlife. For example, the employment proposals in the Draft Core Strategy around Barton would involve development on around 40 hectares of Green Belt which could affect the wildlife corridor function of this part of the Green Belt…"
And humans don't come out of the Port Salford plan intact either…
"…it could potentially have localised air quality impacts given the number of movements in and out of the site" the assessment adds "When coupled with the proposals…relating to 40 hectares of employment development in the Barton Green Belt and increased activity at City Airport Manchester, there is a potential for significant air pollution impact in this part of the city."
The proposal also goes against the Council's own Nature and Biodiversity document and its stated aims of protecting Green Belt and green field sites.
The residents have had enough and have formed a protest group which presented a 1600 signature petition to the Council recently.
"The whole community are behind this" says Jackie Anderson of the Save Barton Moss campaign "We feel very abandoned out here anyway but now we're just seen as a dumping ground and we need a greater voice. We feel that they should be increasing Green Belt land rather than decreasing it and we want the Council to revise the Core Strategy and take the building on Green Belt land out of it.
"We're also against the train tracks that are going up there as well to meet the Liverpool-Manchester line" she adds "It would join into the Green Belt land, thirty yards from people's houses and, apparently, it will be running 24 hours a day. So it's the noise pollution and the general pollution. The increase in canal traffic means them taking off 3000 containers a day, and then putting them onto a train track, and lorries will be queuing up…The loss of quality of life for the residents will be overwhelming."
The protest is being backed by local MP Barbara Keeley, Friends of the Earth, The Wildlife Trust, and local Bird Protector, Judith Smith. It's also being supported by local councillors, some of whom, strangely, are actually part of the Council that is attempting to push this through.
The protest group is also linking up with the Little Hulton and Walkden protest against 21 hectares of Greenfield and farmland being trashed for `high quality' housing at Cutacre, and the protest against a new incinerator in Winton.
Salford's `There's Loads of Grass' campaign is coming back to haunt it…
PUBLIC PROTEST AGAINST THE PROPOSED TRASHING OF SALFORD'S GREEN BELT
Saturday 23rd January 12noon
Outside Parkfield Cottage on Liverpool Road, Irlam
(near Barton Aerodrome)
Further details on the protest Facebook site…