Plans to build the biggest motorway service station in the West Midlands have come under fire following a backlash from the Solihull community.
The £65 million station is earmarked for Junctions 5 and 6 on the M42 – less than a mile away from the village of Catherine-de-Barnes – and is expected to create 300 jobs.
But environmental campaigners and local MP Caroline Spelman have slammed the proposals, saying they are have come at “the wrong time and in the wrong place.”
“There are concerns that this greenbelt location and its ancient woodland is not an appropriate site for such development,” the Meriden Tory MP said.
“There are many other planned development projects in the local area, such as the construction of UK Central Hub to link local networks, Birmingham Airport and the NEC with mainline train lines into Birmingham and London, which will put pressure on infrastructure and disrupt nearby communities.
“I would oppose a proposal for a motorway service station south of the A45, which is premature while the remodelling of Junction 6 takes place.”
The Solihull Motorway Service Area, located to the west of the M42 and south of Solihull Road, close to Birmingham Airport, will complete the ‘development jigsaw’ centred around the growth of the NEC, Birmingham Airport and Solihull.
The Woodland Trust has also hit out at the plans, saying the service station would destroy the local environment and ancient woodland.
Nikki Williams, head of campaigning at the Woodland Trust, said: “It is unbelievable that an organisation could be so brazen as to propose a motorway service area that destroys ancient woodland anywhere, but Extra Motorway Services obviously has no shame when it comes to destroying the UK’s precious and irreplaceable habitats.
“These proposals are completely unacceptable and we will be joining forces with long-standing local campaign groups to object in the strongest terms.
“Protection for ancient woodland is currently weak and, despite assurances from Government that this habitat is protected, a loophole remains in planning policy.
“So far, more than 50,000 people have joined our call for stronger legislation to safeguard ancient woodland in the face of ever-increasing development threats – it’s time for Government to start listening.”
A public exhibition will be held today at Catney Village Hall, Catherine-de-Barnes, between 2.30pm and 8pm. There will also be one tomorrow at the Ramada George Hotel, Solihull, between 10am and 4pm.