plan BACK 

Residents protested at the railfreight park plans after they were lodged back in 2013.
Residents protested at the railfreight park plans after they were lodged back in 2013.

Campaigners have been stunned to learn that their long fight to stop huge industrial development on Bellshill greenbelt is not yet over.

Residents celebrated victory last year when Court of Session judges ruled Mossend International Railfreight Park couldn’t go ahead.

Peter D Stirling, which currently operates Mossend Railhead in Reema Road, said the expansion of its base would create nearly 5,000 jobs.

However, North Lanarkshire Council refused planning permission after concerns were raised about loss of greenbelt and the impact of traffic and noise.

That decision was overturned on appeal by the Scottish Government, but the council then took legal action and won its case last August.

That appeared to be the end of the matter, but now all parties have been told that another Government reporter will carry out a site inspection next week.

A Government spokesman said the official will “examine the proposed development and submit a report with recommendations to ministers”.

Sharon Hailstones, of Bellshill Greenbelt Alliance, which organised protests against the development, said: “We are very disappointed that the applicant won’t accept the will of the Bellshill people and the decision made by the council and the previous reporter.

“The people living near the proposed development will continue to oppose an increase in noise, light and air pollution close to their homes. We trust that the new reporter will have the same understanding of the situation and legislation of his predecessor.”

Bellshill councillor Harry Curran was surprised at the turn of events, believing the issue had been settled by the Court of Session ruling.

The initial site inspection two years ago had ended with the Government reporter recommending the planning application be refused. That was not accepted by ministers.

Councillor Curran said: “I would hope this reporter makes the same recommendation. I don’t see any material change in circumstances since last time. The case for retaining the greenbelt is as strong as ever.”