Freight railway to deliver jobs and homes to Northfleet...and a nature reserve to Essex (From News Shopper)
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Freight railway to deliver jobs and homes to Northfleet...and a nature reserve to Essex
SIX hundred houses, 1,600 jobs, 50,000 lorries journeys spared and a nature reserve in Essex – they will be the results of a £13.5million freight railway which opened in Northfleet on Thursday (June 21).
Cement firm Lafarge has built 4.75km of track which will be used to take some of the six million tonnes of spoil from the Crossrail building project to the Thames at Northfleet.
From there, the material will be floated out to create an RSPB nature reserve at Wallasea Island in Essex.
It is expected to take 50,000 lorries a year off the road.
Lafarge ceased operation of its Northfleet cement plant – the largest in the UK, and possibly Europe – and set about demolishing it in 2008.
President of Lafarge UK, Dyfrig James said: “What Lafarge has had to do is breathe new life into what happens here.”
The work with Crossrail is expected to go on until 2018, after which the site is expected to be regenerated with houses and jobs.
Lafarge has already had planning applications for a Bulk Aggregate Terminal, to move 1.2million tonnes of rubble by rail a year, and a mixed-use development for 600 houses and employment for 1,500 or 1,600 people approved.
The company believes that with the rail line installed, the post-Crossrail development is much more likely to come to fruition.
Opening the rail line, Thames Gateway Minister Bob Neill MP described it as a “win-win”, with environmental and commercial advantages.
Mr Neill said the railway enhanced the infrastructure of the area, making it “more attractive” for homes and jobs.
He said: “It demonstrates the Thames Gateway is very much open for business.”
Former Gravesham Council leader and Kent County Councillor, Mike Snelling said: “The application for mixed development was for a lot of homes and a lot of jobs. It is a huge development for Northfleet and Gravesham and it would not have happened without the railway.”
Gravesham Councillor for Northfleet North, Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi added: “This is a very exciting development for us. We are hoping this will bring a lot of employment into the area and continue the regeneration.”
Crossrail is a high-frequency railway which will go across the capital from Maidenhead and Heathrow in the west to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east.
It will have double the capacity of the Jubilee line and will increase London’s public transport rail capacity by 10 per cent.
It will bring another 1.5million people into a 45 minute commute to London’s main employment areas.
There are 4,000 people working on its constructions, creating 21km of tunnels, which are 6.2m in diameter.
That will create 6million tonnes of spoil – enough to fill Wembley stadium to the brim twice.
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