THE GOVERNMENT'S integrated transport policy is being used as a smokescreen for an 'ill-conceived' £13M railway station, residents of a Nottinghamshire village claimed this week.
Protesters from Ratcliffe on Soar, 14km west of Nottingham, are furious that train operator Midland Mainline wants to build a 2,000m2, two storey station with 1,000 parking spaces just 50m from their village centre.
They wrote to Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott two weeks ago accusing Midland Mainline of using Labour's transport policies 'as an excuse for hasty and ill-conceived action', but so far have had no reply from his department.
Chairman of the parish council Dr Brian Hill, a lecturer in economics at Nottingham University, claimed the station would tower 12m above the village. This would give passengers a view into people's houses, he said, and would generate a large volume of 'kiss and ride' traffic - people being driven to the station by partners. He added that as the village is already prone to flooding, run-off from the car park would upset the balance of the drainage system.
Hill said: 'We are not NIMBYs. We fully accept that this parish is ideally suited for a parkway scheme, but we would like it to be sited in the best place for the long term.'
He claimed the transport benefits of the scheme could still be achieved by building the station to the north of the village, but that Midland Mainline was trying to cut costs.
'Because of the local topography the site we are suggesting would require the provision of an extra bridge over the railway', he explained.
The development of parkway stations are seen as one of the Government's key initiatives to encourage more motorists to travel by rail. Midland Mainline owner National Express Group is committed to assessing the feasibility of the parkway station as part of its franchise agreement and proposes to finance the £13M scheme itself.
A spokeswoman for Midland Mainline said: 'There are problems with increasing traffic in the area and the drainage system, but these are things we can address.'
Midland Mainline hopes to start construction next year and plans to open the station in February 2001.