Covering 22 acres, the former Huncoat Power Station has been earmarked as the site for the goods depot, a project that could boost East Lancashire’s economy by an estimated £1bn.
Local leaders from both the public and private sector are backing proposals for the East Lancashire Freight Terminal, and hope to raise £150,000 for an economic feasibility study for the project.
In total, the scheme would cost around £200m to develop.
The proposed site has disused freight rail sidings, and the surrounding land is already designated for future freight rail development. It is located in the centre of East Lancashire’s industry, engineering, and aerospace, between the existing rail and road network.
Business group AmazingAccrington, which is leading the campaign for the freight terminal, believes the project could be a “game-changing” development for the area.
Hyndburn’s economy has suffered since the decline of heavy industry and the government ranks the borough as the 16th most deprived area in England currently.
“Bringing a freight rail terminal to East Lancashire will tie into levelling up plans, give an economic boost to the region, and create cost, resource and carbon savings for businesses,” a letter written by AmazingAccrington chair Murray Dawson said.
“[The terminal] could unlock a £1bn chain of investments across East Lancashire,” Dawson added.
The letter is being sent to local stakeholders to convince them to invest in the project. AmazingAccrington is trying to amass £1,000 from 50 businesses to pay for the feasibility study.
The timing of the proposals aims to take advantage of two key themes: the booming e-commerce market and the government’s net-zero ambitions.
“The World Economic Forum estimates e-commerce could rise from 19.2% to 53% of all goods purchased by 2028,” the letter states.
“The increase in goods being delivered, plus the urgent need to reduce road traffic, mean that freight rail volume is projected to treble by 2050. In 2019 only 8% of domestic freight was moved by rail.”
Among those backing the project are Debbie Francis, chair of Lancashire LEP, Studio, Hyndburn’s biggest employer, and the Department for International Trade.
The former Huncoat power station falls within the wider 440-acre Huncoat Garden Village, a scheme that could deliver more than 1,500 homes over the next 15 years.