Green light for controversial 'eco-friendly' service station

A controversial 'green' motorway service station on a Cotswold stretch of the M5 has been given planning permission.

Stroud District Council has approved plans for the £35 million Gloucester Gateway project between junctions 11a and 12 despite heavy opposition.

Councillor Phil Bevan, the Conservative councillor for nearby Stonehouse, said: "Whilst I fully understand the disappointment of those who opposed the development, the benefits to those in my ward will be enormous and I will work closely with the company to ensure the best for my constituents."

The project, due to be completed in 2013, is a joint venture between Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (GGT) and Westmorland Limited, which runs Cumbria's Tebay services.

Westmorland has highlighted the environmentally-friendly, carbon-crunching credentials of the scheme.

Fast food chains will be banned, locally-sourced produce used, electric vehicle charging points built into car parks along with filling stations that can be adapted to bio-fuel pumps in the future.

Sarah Dunning, Westmoreland chief executive, said: "We have 38 years experience of delivering local benefit in Cumbria and we look forward to doing the same in Gloucestershire."

The development will use 20 per cent of the energy of a conventional service station, the developers claim, with ten per cent of its needs provided by on-site renewable energy technologies.

Meanwhile, the timber buildings will be "homely and rural" to fit in with the environment, with wood sourced from nearby Forest of Dean.

Staff will be bussed in to cut car journeys and around half the catering and retail waste will be recycled or composted on site for use in the gardens. Rainwater harvesting will also be used.

Developers say the service station will create 300 new jobs.

Westmorland has committed to donating a percentage of turnover to a charitable trust for local good causes, which should deliver around £500,000 a year for the next 20 years.

But the scheme has sparked fierce opposition.

More than 1,000 names were listed on a petition against the application.
The council also received objections from a host of local government bodies and conservation organisations.
Opponents fear the 66-acre development will spoil the area bringing in more traffic and scarring the neighbouring Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

They have indicated they may seek a judicial review of last Tuesday's (August 10) decision.

Jo Casling, of the Campaign against Motorway Service Area, said:"I cannot understand how they can justify building a motorway service station."
She added: "It will not bring anything to the local community. It will destroy the landscape and potentially take jobs away from the other two service stations (at Michaelwood and Strensham)."

John Marjoram, a Green Party Stroud District councillor, said while he 'couldn't fault them on design, whatever you do to disguise it it's still a motorway service area'.

David Gibbs


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