Villagers unite in battle to stop huge port development on their doorstep

Campaigners are stepping up their fight to stop proposals for a 300-acre 24-hour business park on farmland next to homes in a small village.

Council officials say the site between Trimley St Martin and Kirton is needed to ensure the future viability of Britain’s top container terminal, the Port of Felixstowe.

But villagers say the project, along with plans for more homes nearby, will destroy the character of two Domesday Book villages.

The business park will include warehousing, haulage yards, lorry parking and logistics centres, along with cafes and truck stop facilities.

However, residents in Kirton and Trimley St Martin say the land between Innocence Lane and the A14 is unsuitable, too close to homes and a school, and there are other sites which could accommodate the project, which has now been identified officially as part of the new revised draft Local Plan.

A council-commissioned study shows the land owned by Trinity College, Cambridge, is much bigger than the port needs – but feels it is the best option, especially as several other potential sites are too far along the A14 corridor to appeal to businesses.

The port’s main competitors already have large on-site logistics parks, which are essential to the success of the way ports now work.

On Wednesday (September 12) at 7.30pm a public meeting is being held at Trimley Sports and Social Club to allow people to voice their opinions on the plans and separate proposals for more large-scale housing in the Trimleys.

The Kirton Land Grab campaign said: “Both would eat up vast tranches of prime agricultural land and would have knock-on effects to everyone living within 5 miles of the two Parishes.”

Campaigners say the increase in traffic would be “colossal”, along with air, noise and light pollution, and say Suffolk Coastal council has not taken into account the impact on residents. They say the projects would “wipe out” the character of the villages.

Analysis suggests 3,200 container lorries and 600 cars would visit daily, while long-term plans would include and underpass rail link to the new dual Ipswich-Felixstowe rail line on other side of the A14.

More than 600 people have already signed an on-line petition against the proposals.

Suffolk Coastal said: “Ensuring that there is sufficient infrastructure to support the Port of Felixstowe will be fundamental to the continued success of the employment area.

“Alongside the policy for the Port of Felixstowe this plan also allocates a large area of land at Innocence Farm, close to Trimley St Martin and Kirton, for employment uses to support the continued viability of the Port of Felixstowe.”

The port already has plans for a huge logistics centre within its own boundaries and for further expansion at Christmasyard Wood in Trimley, and the council admit that the Innocence Lane site would be “well in excess” of land needed for the whole of the district. In addition 100 acres of development land called Gateway 14 has recently been announced alongside the A14 near Stowmarket which would support the port. Despite this the council believes the land at Kirton and Trimley St Martin should be developed.

The council said the need for additional land reflects the important economic role played by the Port of Felixstowe at the local, national and international level.

The Port of Felixstowe handles around 40% of all UK container traffic (4 million containers per year) “and this generates a need for port based logistics, transport, haulage and warehousing operations to support the supply chain businesses in the area”.

The suggested site is flat and visible for miles around but the council would insist on substantial landscaping and tree planting to hide it.

Richard Cornwell

11th September 2018