Proposals for a new International Railfreight Terminal at Mossend have been given the seal of approval by Scottish Ministers.
The decision will mean the creation of the country’s biggest state-of-the-art railfreight development with the potential to deliver 4,900 new jobs during the construction and operational phases.
In addition to new freight handling capabilities Mossend International Railfreight Park (MIRP) will provide adjoining distribution facilities that will enable more businesses to shift long distance freight from road to rail.
PD Stirling the operators of the existing Mossend Railhead will expand its existing operations to provide Scotland with a 66 per cent increased capacity rail link to UK and European markets.
PD Stirling director David Stirling said: “MIRP will create a major new railfreight facility and help to secure new investment and economic activity both in Lanarkshire and across Scotland.
“MIRP will be able to compete favourably on cost with road transport, extend choice and support the sustainable movement of goods to and from Scotland.”
A number of high-profile businesses including Wincanton Distribution, Ibstock Bricks, Howden Joinery and Wavin have already expressed interest.
Planning Minister Alex Neil gave the project his personal approval despite North Lanarkshire councillors and the independent reporter rejecting it as the proposed site is green belt.
However, he was swayed by the National Planning Framework which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 80 per cent and get more road freight onto the rails.
This decision was backed by Central Scotland list MSP Richard Lyle, who said: “I personally welcome the decision as it will bring much needed jobs to the area and provide the community with an excellent economic boost.
“It will also reduce our carbon footrpint as the lorries will come straight off the motorway and not through Bellshill.”
Uddingston and Bellshill MSP Michael McMahon says he can’t wait to get back to Parliament to grill Mr Neil over his decision.
He said: “I’m disappointed, but not surprised, as I predicted this would happen.
“Alex Neil ignored the advice of the reporter and told the campaigners he shared their concerns, when clearly he was more concerned with making sure the project went ahead to fit with Government policy.
“I can’t wait to get back to Parliament so I can table a question about this because Mr Neil cannot make a decision like this and not be held accountable.”
Bellshill councillor Harry Curran was similarly angry.
He said: “I am bitterly disappointed with the minister for allowing this to happen, this is a victory for big business over the local community.
“The Scottish Government is forever telling us it listens, well clearly that’s not the case.”