Campaigners’ traffic report won’t be accepted in Amazon warehouse fight

Highways chiefs have refused to accept a specialist report that says traffic levels from HGV movements at a massive warehouse project have been underestimated.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 12:20 pm
An artist’s impression of what a massive warehouse and distribution centre near Cleckheaton could look like

It is the latest blow for people fighting plans for what is believed will be an Amazon distribution centre close to junction 26 of the M62 near Cleckheaton.

The report, crowd-funded and commissioned by action group Save Our Spen, was sent to National Highways, the Government-owned company responsible for maintaining motorways and A roads in England.

However an official said: “National Highways does not intend to review this as part of our transport evidence; we take this from the transport assessment documentation provided to us by the council on behalf of the applicant.”

That resulted in a formal complaint from Save Our Spen members who said they were “stunned” by the response.

Plans for the facility, earmarked for 59 acres of farmland at Scholes between Whitehall Road, Whitechapel Road and the motorway, have been contentious since they were revealed in June.

The “monolithic” building has been described by critics as equivalent in height to an eight-storey tower block and the length of three full-size football pitches side-by-side.

Among their concerns campaigners say local roads and the Chain Bar junction of the M62 will be swamped by heavy traffic as between six and ten HGVs could go in or out of the site every minute.

Those fears have been underlined by the independent assessment, which Save Our Spen said laid bare “inconsistencies and false claims” in an alternative traffic report provided to the council by the applicant.

The residents’ report points to the applicant’s assessment as using traffic modelling that they consider to be “massively understated” and which is based on an incorrect number of HGV loading bays on the site.

What’s more it says several unnamed Amazon warehouse locations have been cited in support of claims made and laid out as evidence along with information drawn from generic warehousing operations that do not relate to the proposed facility at Scholes.

A spokesman for Save Our Spen said the group hoped Kirklees Council would take note.

He said: “It is inconceivable that National Highways can be so dismissive.

“Kirklees Council have been provided with the report and we expect Kirklees Council to now act on this information and insist that the applicants provide a factual and accurate traffic assessment.

“Under no circumstances should this application proceed until the full facts have been obtained and verified.

“The more you dig deep into the planning application, the more it seems to unravel at the seams.”

The group was supported by Cleckheaton councillor John Lawson, the leader of the Lib Dems on the council.

He commented: “I’m very disappointed to learn that National Highways won’t include the report in their evidence.

“Save Our Spen raised funds to pay for a professional, independent view.

“To not even consider it weakens the National Highways transport evidence – evidence that will be given much weight at committee.”