OxSRFI

Overview

Oxfordshire Railfreight Ltd is preparing plans for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) on land to the east of Heyford Park and west of the B430 road. The proposed site is situated immediately south and adjacent to the Chiltern Main Line.
OxSRFI LOCATION PLAN

The proposals respond to the recognised need to create a network of Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges throughout the country. This significant private sector investment will contribute to the Government’s ambition for more freight to be moved by rail rather than by road and help to create a low carbon sustainable transport system. The transfer of freight from road to rail has a significant role to play in a low carbon economy, helping to address climate change. The proposals will also contribute to Oxfordshire’s economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting growth and creating employment opportunities.

Given its strategic importance, the proposals meet the criteria to be considered a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. As such, the proposals will be subject to an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) which will be submitted for examination by the Planning Inspectorate who will process the application. The Secretary of State for Transport will then consider the Inspector’s recommendation and determine the application.

At this early stage, preliminary assessment and non-intrusive site investigation works are being undertaken that will help shape the development of the proposals, as well as identify potential constraints and impacts. This on-site work will inform the process of seeking an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Scoping Opinion from the Planning Inspectorate to determine what issues the development team will need to consider to assess the potential environmental effects of the scheme.

Oxfordshire Railfreight Ltd will be undertaking extensive public consultation with the local community later in the year. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please take a look at the Frequently Asked Questions provided below. Alternatively, you can contact us on 0333 358 0502 (Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:30pm) or email oxsrfi@havingyoursay.co.uk

To obtain further details about the NSIP process, and to register for updates from the Planning Inspectorate as the scheme and application moves through the various stages of the process, you can find information on the National Infrastructure Planning website here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the site?

The site is located to the east of Heyford Park and west of the B430 road. The proposed site is also adjacent to the south of the Chiltern Railway.

What is being proposed?

The proposals for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) are at an early stage of development. The emerging proposals include a rail terminal to the north of the site and warehousing positioned either side of a central access road. A new link road to the M40 junction 10 is also envisaged, with significant improvement works to the junction together with improvements to the local road network around Ardley and Middleton Stoney. Preparation of the proposals is ongoing, and the plans will be presented to the public when a community consultation is held. The consultation is anticipated to start later this year.

Why here?
The Government is committed to expanding the network of SRFI across the regions. At the moment there is a concentration of SRFIs in the Midlands, principally along the M1-M6 corridor.

There are currently no SRFIs along the M40 corridor, and none which serve Oxfordshire. An Oxfordshire SRFI would be capable of expanding the existing network of SRFIs, meet the needs of existing and future businesses in Oxfordshire, and be capable of helping to meet the needs of London and the Midlands.

The National Policy Statement for National Networks recognises that the locations where SRFIs will be appropriate across the Country will be limited. This is largely because SRFIs are required to have good access to both the strategic rail and road networks, as well as having access to the markets they will serve. In part due to these and other functional requirements, including the minimum size of SRFIs (60 hectares/148.2 acres) and a typical need for 24hr operations, the government recognises that SRFIs may need to be located in the countryside as there are few sites within urban areas which meet these key criteria.

The site is ideally located adjacent to the M40 motorway and the south of the Chiltern Railway, part of the strategic rail freight network.

Our plans look to meet the needs of the logistics industry in serving manufacturers, distributors and retailers by capitalising on the site’s locational strengths and connectivity to the railway and motorway networks.
What is an SRFI?
A Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) is a large multi-purpose freight interchange and distribution centre linked to both the rail and trunk road systems. It has rail served warehousing and container handling facilities, and enables freight to be transferred between transport modes (i.e. from lorry to train). An SRFI allows rail to be used to best effect to undertake the long-haul primary trunk journey, with other modes (usually road) providing the secondary, and often final, delivery leg of the journey.

In December 2014 Government published the National Policy for National Networks (NPS). The NPS sets the national vision and policy for the future development of nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) on the national road and rail networks. It is explicitly intended to provide guidance for promoters of nationally significant infrastructure projects and forms the basis for the examination of NSIP projects and decisions by the Secretary of State.

The NPS makes explicit references to SRFIs and their role in facilitating the movement of freight from road to rail which is seen as central to Government’s vision for transport.

The Government is committed to expanding the SRFI network in response to economic and environmental objectives, helping to achieve its ambition for a low carbon economy.

Due to the strategic importance of the scheme, the application will be a Development Consent Order (DCO) and will be assessed by the Planning Inspector ahead of being determined by the Secretary of State for Transport.
What is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project?
A Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) is a large-scale development, relating to energy, transport, water or waste. NSIPs in the transport sector include new rail freight interchanges over 60 hectares in area in England.

Unlike ‘regular’ planning applications, NSIP proposals are not determined by the local planning authority. Instead, an NSIP requires a Development Consent Order (DCO), whereby the Planning Inspectorate examine the proposals and make a recommendation to the relevant Secretary of State who makes the final decision on the proposals.

To obtain further details about the NSIP process, and to register for updates from the Planning Inspectorate as the scheme and application moves through the various stages of the process, you can find information on the National Infrastructure Planning website here.
What is a DCO?
A Development Consent Order (DCO) is the means of obtaining planning permission for developments categorised as NSIPs.

A developer intending to construct a NSIP must have their proposals examined by the Planning Inspectorate who will make a report to the Secretary of State for Transport. The Secretary of State will then decide whether to grant or refuse development consent. If consent is granted the Secretary of State will establish a DCO which allows the developers to construct and operate the project.

More information about the various stages of the national infrastructure planning process can be found on the Planning Inspectorate’s website, here. The Planning Inspectorate’s advice on how members of the public can get involved with the process can be found here.
What is an EIA Scoping Report?
The purpose of the Scoping process is to agree the scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which is required to be submitted as part of the application.

The Scoping Report will set out the latest information regarding the proposed development, including information to describe the site and summarise the current site conditions, where known. It sets out the proposed environmental issues and topics which could potentially generate significant environmental effects and describes the approach and methodology for the range of assessments proposed by the Applicant to be included in the EIA.
Has a Scoping Report been submitted?
We have submitted our Scoping Report to the Planning Inspectorate. The purpose of the Scoping process is to agree the full scope of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which is required to be submitted as part of the application.

The Planning Inspectorate will seek views and input from a range of statutory consultees and other national and local bodies before reaching a Scoping Opinion.
Why are people on site?
At this stage, non-intrusive preliminary site investigation works are being undertaken. This on-site work will inform the process of seeking an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Scoping Opinion from the Planning Inspectorate to determine what issues the development team will need to consider to assess the potential environmental effects of the scheme.
What site investigations are being undertaken?
A number of site investigations have already been completed or are underway on the Main Site, including:

• Phase 1 habitat survey, and species specific surveys including:

– Badger survey

– Bat transect survey

– Breeding bird surveys

– Water vole surveys

– Great crested newts survey (if required)

• Tree survey

• Topographical survey

• Initial noise and vibration surveys

• Lighting survey

• Geophysical (archaeological) surveys

These surveys are non-intrusive and include walkovers to gather readings, take notes, and photographs.

Will you be engaging with the local community?
Before an NSIP application is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate, the developer is required to carry out consultation on their proposals. We are committed to engaging with the community on the proposals ahead of a formal submission. As such, community consultation for the proposals is anticipated to start later this year.

Further details regarding the consultation will be announced in due course, but this will provide an opportunity for local people to provide feedback on the plans. The public consultation will be advertised in the press and within the local community ahead of its launch and this will be the platform for local people to raise any comments or concerns regarding the proposals.

All comments submitted during the consultation will be considered ahead of the plans being finalised. The final proposals will be issued to the Planning Inspectorate.
What happens next?
The process of preparing and submitting an application is expected to take approximately 18 months and is at an early stage.

Once the EIA Scoping process is completed, we will undertake initial consultation and engagement with the local community. The consultation on the proposals will be announced in due course.
How can I register to be kept informed about the progress of the plans?
We are committed to engaging with the local community on the proposals ahead of a formal submission. A public consultation is anticipated to commence later this year. In the meantime, if you wish to be kept updated on the progress of the plans, please contact us on 0333 358 0502 (Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:30pm) or email oxsrfi@havingyoursay.co.uk