Image copyright Network Rail Image caption The West Midlands Strategic Rail Freight Interchange will link to the motorway and the West Coast Mainline

Plans to build a new rail freight hub on land off the M6 in Staffordshire have been given the go-ahead by the government.

The West Midlands Strategic Rail Freight Interchange will link to the motorway and the West Coast Mainline.

It is set to be built near the village of Gailey and result in the loss of 297 hectares of green belt land.

About 3,000 people had signed a petition over the plans claiming they would result in higher CO2 emissions.

However, it was announced on Monday that Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps had granted a Development Consent Order (DCO) to company Four Ashes Ltd for the project to proceed.

The hub will allow for the transfer of goods between lorries and trains and requires the creation of a freight terminal, container storage, heavy goods vehicle parking, rail-served warehouses and ancillary buildings, according to the DCO.

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The transport secretary "notes the proposed development will amount to a loss of 297 hectares of designated Green Belt", the DCO continued, adding Mr Shapps "agrees that the national and regional need for the proposed development outweighs any harm".

Campaign group Snub the Hub claims the plans will lead to 16.3 tonnes of extra CO2 emissions and 6,319 more HGVs on nearby roads each day.

Earlier this year, Stafford MP Theo Clarke presented to Parliament a petition against the plans containing nearly 3,000 signatures.

Image copyright Four Ashes Ltd Image caption A campaign group claims the plans will lead to extra CO2 emissions and 6,319 more HGVs on nearby roads each day

Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council's economic growth leader, said the authority did not approve of the proposal due to the location, adding the council's priority remained ensuring "maximum mitigation and appropriate compensation to affected communities".

Part of the DCO contains reference to "compulsory acquisition powers" over land "required for the purposes of the proposed development".

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