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M42 station to face new fight; CATHERINE DE BARNES Villagers in service stop battle.

Byline: By Leda Reynolds

VILLAGERS are gearing up to renew their fight to veto plans for a motorway service station in Solihull.

A public inquiry is to be reopened into a proposal by Blue Boar Motorways Ltd to build a service station on the M42 at Catherine de Barnes between Junction 5 and 6.

An inquiry was launched in November 1999, sparking a massive protest from campaigners who felt the Green Belt and nearby Grade II listed Walford Hall Farm would be lost forever should the 600-acre site be given the go-ahead. But developers were granted interim approval but told to fine tune the plan taking into account the Grade II listed building.

The Government Office for the West Midlands has now written to Solihull Council informing them that the public inquiry is to be reopened, sparking fierce opposition from the Catherine De Barnes based Say No Action Group. "It's taken them five years to come back with the amended plans and we're just as ready to fight them now," said Maggie Throup, group spokesman.

Campaigners fear plans for a second runway at Birmingham Airport - which would almost touch the service station- could pave the way for the scheme being given the green light.

"In one respect this is good news as it gives us the opportunity to highlight the many changes there have been since the first public inquiry in 1999, such as the building of the service station at Hopwood," said Ms Throup, who is now a Tory prospective parliamentary candidate for Solihull.

"I'm sure the swell of public opinion will be instrumental in stopping the motorway service station once and for all."

Tory MP Caroline Spelman, whose constituency the service station would be in, said: "It appears the Secretary of State feels that the second runway now needs to be taken into consideration before the motorway service area gets any nearer being built. It's a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing."

A date for the public inquiry has yet to be announced

CAPTION(S):

CONFUSION... Caroline Spelman; NO END IN SIGHT... Villagers say they will fight again to stop a new motorway service station from being built
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Oct 20, 2005
Words:367
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