FEARS have been raised over a post-Brexit lorry park causing traffic ‘chaos’ amid growing anger from the Town Hall.

The former Shearings interchange site in Appleton Thorn is planned to become a 24/7 facility for heavy goods vehicles from January 1 2021.

It is earmarked to be used as an inland border and to provide a large base for paperwork checks, alongside sample vehicle checks, for vehicles entering and leaving the country.

But the Government will use a piece of legislation that overrides local planning decisions and ensures planning consent in the normal way is not required.

Warrington Borough Council (WBC) chief executive Steven Broomhead says the decision was ‘imposed on us’ by central Government without any local consultation.

He said: “The Government has executed a special development order (SDO), allowing it to circumvent local planning processes, to create a lorry park within our borough.

“I’m also disappointed to see that the Government has reassured other councils that it would discuss any infrastructure plans with them first, but seems to have executed the SDO without Warrington having the opportunity to talk about it first with them.

“There are still many unanswered questions as to how a lorry park in Warrington would impact and affect our communities and wider infrastructure and we are seeking clarity as to a partnership approach with Government on this.”

Meanwhile, the council passed a motion, proposed by leader Cllr Russ Bowden (LAB – Birchwood), on the issue during Monday’s virtual full council meeting where Warrington South Tory MP Andy Carter came in for criticism.

The motion expressed concerns over the Government designating the land for a lorry park without any consultation with the council – and called on the town’s MPs to condemn the decision and lobby Government to engage properly with local authorities.

Cllr Bowden slammed the ‘incompetence’ over the process and said the move is an affront to local democracy.

“We’ve had no discussion around, for example, the traffic impact,” he said.

“We are looking here at a site which would operate 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year – no promise around infrastructure investment which could support increased traffic to that order.”

Cllr Bowden also said Mr Carter’s ‘sole defence’ for the actions of the Government about it providing jobs is a ‘really dangerous precedent’.

Cllr Bob Barr (LD – Lymm North and Thelwall), leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, said the scheme has not been thought through and that Mr Carter’s ‘hypocrisy’ has been ‘absolutely flabbergasting’.

“This will be lorries coming off the motorway absolutely non-stop if this goes ahead, as is suggested, and that would cause chaos,” he said.

Mr Carter met with Lord Agnew, the minister of state at the Cabinet Office who is responsible for the matter, on Tuesday afternoon to raise key issues with him directly.

Last year, developers Langtree and Panattoni submitted blueprints proposing the £180 million employment site, named Six 56 Warrington.

It was proposed to be located next to junction 20 of the M6 and junction nine of the M56 in Lymm.

However, Mr Carter says he believes the problem for the Labour-run council is that they wanted the site proposed for the lorry park as part of its overall plan to ‘build on the green belt’ in Warrington South and ‘it now causes them some problems’.

He added: “I’m a little confused by the comments from WBC, I know they’ve been in discussions with HMRC and Government over the last couple of months, they’ve told me this as have the Government, so to say there has been no contact is simply not the case.

“The site is located on an existing industrial estate and was previously used as a coach interchange so this isn’t the same as building across the green belt.

“It’s a temporary instalment which is likely to create between 70 and 100 well-paid HMRC and Border Force jobs locally.

“I’ve asked for more detailed breakdown of anticipated vehicle movements from the site, work being carried out on assessing how many exporters will need to visit a customs post but I will publish these as soon as I receive them.

“I was encouraged though to hear that the majority of export declarations will be made online rather than through a customs clearance centre.

“I do recognise fully the legitimate concerns from residents around traffic, both at the M6 Junction 20 and in the villages of Appleton Thorn and Stretton.

“I’ve written to both the parish council and borough council asking for the steps they want to see to minimise the impact locally and will share these with the Cabinet Office once I receive their responses.”