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 draft plans are now presented to the community as part of the first public consultation which began on 9th May 2022.
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 was prepared and submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in June 2021. The Report sets out information regarding the proposed development at the time of writing, including information to describe the site and summarise the current site conditions, where known. The Report also 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 submitted our Scoping Report to the Planning Inspectorate in June 2021. 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 Scoping Report can be seen here.

The Planning Inspectorate sought views and input from a range of statutory consultees and other national and local bodies before reaching a Scoping Opinion, which was issued in July 2021. It, and the Scoping Report can be seen here.

The Applicant is now reviewing the ES Scoping Opinion, and progressing the range of environmental and technical surveys and assessments needed to compile the ES. That work also feeds into, and informs, ongoing work to refine and progress the draft development proposals which are now presented as part of the first stage of public consultation which began on 9th May 2022. Work will remain on-going for the second consultation which is not yet confirmed but will be in Winter 2022/early 2023.

Why are people on site?

Our site investigations which will inform our environmental impact assessment are either completed or underway. The site investigations are an important part of the project and will help shape the development of the proposals as well as identify potential constraints and impacts.

What site investigations are being undertaken?

A number of site investigations have already been completed or are underway across the site, including:

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

Badger surveys

Bat transect surveys

Breeding bird surveys

Water vole surveys

Reptile surveys

Great crested newts surveys

Tree survey

Topographical survey

Noise and vibration surveys

Odour survey

Air quality surveys

Lighting survey

Geophysical (archaeological) surveys

Ground investigation

Archaeological trial trenching

Agricultural land classification

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, the first community consultation for the proposals started on the 9th May 2022 with the consultation documents now added to this website. The second community consultation will begin in Winter 2022/23 with further details announced nearer the time.

These consultations will provide an opportunity for local people to provide feedback on the plans and supporting documents. The first public consultation has been advertised in the press (including the Oxford Mail and Bicester Advertiser) and within the local community ahead of its launch and is the platform for local people to raise any comments or concerns regarding the proposals. The second consultation will be advertised in the same way.

All comments submitted during the consultations will be considered ahead of the plans being finalised. The final proposals will be issued to the Planning Inspectorate.

What happens next?

The first public consultation started on 9th May 2022 with the consultation documents now added to this website.  The second consultation will begin in Winter 2022/23.

All comments submitted during the consultations will be considered ahead of the plans being finalised.

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. The consultation documents and information about the first public consultation became available on this website from 9th May 2022. The second consultation will begin in Winter 2022/23 with further details announced nearer the time. In general, 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
Who is ‘Oxfordshire Railfreight Limited’? Who would build and own the development if approved?

The proposals are being promoted by Oxfordshire Railfreight Limited, a special purpose vehicle set up by Mountpark Logistics EU Sarl (Mountpark) to promote and develop the proposed development.

If approved, the development will be delivered by Mountpark – a leading developer with a proven track record in delivering high quality logistics developments across the UK/Ireland and Europe.  

Mountpark is actively working with GB Railfreight who would operate the rail terminal on-site, if approved.  GB Railfreight is the fastest growing rail freight business in the country, and is committed to helping continue to meet government aims to see rail freight “triple by 2050