Policy Context

Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI)

The proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) meets the criteria set by national policy for a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). This is defined by the National Policy Statement for National Networks which provides clear guidance as to the Government’s vision and priorities for road and rail projects in the UK.

An SRFI is effectively an ‘inland port’ – it enables the movement of freight as part of its journey from suppliers to retailers, and from retailers to consumers, and aids the transfer of freight from road to rail.

Government policy is that SRFIs are important because they can provide a range of transport, environmental, and economic benefits, and as a result the national policy is that there should be a network of them in the UK. The Government’s National Policy Statement relating to ‘national networks’ published in December 2014, which includes policy guidance on SRFIs, can be found here.

The National Policy Statement includes a range of criteria for SRFI, including:

  • located appropriately to markets, including urban areas, and key supply chain routes;
  • good access to the road network;
  • locations which allow for 24 hr operations, including countryside (rather than heavily residential locations);
  • located on a rail route with at least ‘W8’ gauge clearance for freight trains;
  • provide a number of rail connected or rail accessible buildings;
  • capable of handling four trains per day, or more, and be able to accommodate 775m trains.

The National Policy Statement defines the Government’s approach to the need for a network of SRFIs and how it fits within the context of a range of economic and environmental policy objectives, including reducing congestion and carbon emissions by reducing the reliance on HGV road vehicles.

It also defines the types of impacts which should considered and assessed when preparing applications, and provides clear guidance about what would normally be expected for inclusion within the Environmental Impact Assessments which should accompany a DCO application. Also see the Application Documents for more information about the ongoing Environmental Impact Assessment.

Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) - process

As an NSIP the proposals will be submitted for determination by the Secretary of State. Instead of an application for planning permission to the local authority, the application will be for a Development Consent Order (DCO).

The NSIP process is coordinated by the Planning Inspectorate who lead on the processing and examination of the application. Details of the NSIP process can be found here – https://infrastructure.planninginspectorate.gov.uk

As a major development proposal the application for a DCO will be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment. The range of documents which will form the application for a DCO, including the Environmental Impact Assessment, will be available via the Application Documents page of this website.

Sub-regional and local policies

The Planning Strategy for Northampton (found in the West Northamptonshire Core Strategy 2014) identifies Northampton as the major focus for development and job creation and as the key economic, employment, and service centre for a large surrounding hinterland.

The Adopted Core Strategy is found here.

The strength of the logistics and distribution sector is well recognised in Northamptonshire. Until recently there were two Local Enterprise Partnerships covering this part of Northamptonshire, with both having identified Logistics as one of their key priority sectors for further growth and development. These two LEPs have now merged (from early October 2016) to form a single LEP for the South-East Midlands, including Northamptonshire. The South East Midlands LEP (SEMLEP) website is found here - www.semlep.com

The SEMLEP recognises that the area has particular strengths in the Logistics sector, and produced a ‘Logistics Report’ focused on a number of issues, including skills and employment related priorities. That report states that the area is

“a key location for logistics activities……a perfect location for logistics organisations to grow and flourish” (page 7, Logistics Report, December 2013).

Useful links

National policy documents:

The earliest national guidance on SRFIs from 2011 is HERE

This (the above) was replaced by the National Policy Statement on National Networks – the version is available HERE

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)