Midlands; News of JLR's new engine plant near Wolverhampton hasn't been universally welcomed; a petition has been launched by residents in South Staffordshire amid concerns that the new £355 million Jaguar Land Rover plant will have a negative impact on their village.
The new engine plant on the border of Wolverhampton and South Staffordshire is set to be given the go ahead. The proposed development on the i54 site, off Wobaston Road, will create 750 jobs and is one of the biggest investments in the region for generations but some residents in Coven Heath have launched a petition amid concerns it will impact on their lives, while councillors have voiced concerns over proposed transport changes.
South Staffordshire Council’s planning committee is being recommended to approve the proposal when it meets next Tuesday. The scheme falls within South Staffordshire’s planning jurisdiction but the i54 project is managed by Wolverhampton City Council.
Councillor Diane Holmes, who sits on the district and parish council, said, 'I will probably make the point that I support the development as it’s too big not to go through but there could be some added light pollution and you are also talking about extended noise from the traffic. Generally people in Coven Heath feel they are surrounded by massive new developments.'
Scotland; Land Rover has also been drawn into some controversy over a stretch of the Roman road, Dere Street, following the recent launch of its updated range of 4x4s vehicles for 2012. Although much of the stretch of Dere Street that passes through the Borders is now riddled with ruts thanks to years of use by farmers’ tractors and off-road vehicles, it is still possible to see in places the cobbled surface on top of a stone base, which was constructed by the Romans.
For years, the use of the road by off-road driving enthusiasts has been a source of much contention with bodies such as Historic Scotland at loggerheads with 4x4 drivers who drive the track. Land Rover spokesperson, Lucy Reynolds, said the company was working with Scottish Natural Heritage to ensure the sections of Dere Street which had been affected up by vehicles would be restored to their condition before the event took place. 'We will make sure this piece of land is made good – any damage will be repaired to the condition it was before or better, she said. 'We are consulting with SNH because it is important to make sure that this work is done during the right time of the year. Whenever we use a piece of land we always ensure it is restored.'
Ms Reynolds added that 'the press launch for its range of 2012 vehicles had been very successful with an event that will have brought in journalists from the world’s motoring press, giving a welcome economic boost to the region. The local people have been very hospitable. We have used this area before and work closely with farmers and landowners, and try to make sure these events do not disturb people.'
Over a decade ago, the former Borders Regional Council agreed to a request from Historic Scotland to close Dere Street to all traffic with the exception of farm vehicles, much to the dismay of organisations such as the Scottish Off-Road Club.
At the time, the Scottish Sports Council called for a compromise, recommending that Dere Street could stay open to all users 'through sensitive management'.
However, the then Scottish Government of Donald Dewar refused to rubber-stamp the closure move and since then there have been no restrictions on vehicles, other than warning signs erected at senstive farming times such as the lambing season.