Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Green light for Cotswolds 'eco' service station?

Plans to develop Britain’s greenest service station by 2013 are set to go ahead in the Cotswolds, on Junctions 11 and 12 on the M5. Pinpointed as a ‘priority area’ by the highways agency, the site lies in a 50 mile gap between services at Ross-on-Wye and the South Gloucestershire border. Aiming to keep carbon emissions at an absolute minimum, the goal is to use five times less energy than a conventional service station and to take at least 10% of their energy from on-site renewable technologies.

The plans of the £35m project include a grass roof, vegetable patch, onsite recycling and composting facilities and a bus service for workers. Charging points for electric cars and bio-fuel pumps are to be featured and the fast food restaurants which are commonplace in most service stations will be banned, favouring local produce and farmhouse roasts, with 70% of meat, dairy, eggs and bakery products sourced from the local area. The ‘Gloucester Gateway’ project will echo its rural surroundings, using timber from the Forest of Dean and aims to blend in with the Cotswold countryside, so as not to create a blot on the landscape.

In addition to its environmental commitment, the company, Westmorland, who have already experienced great success with their service station in Tebay on the M6 in Cumbria, promises to donate around £500,000 a year to local charities over the next two decades.

Those in favour of the project say that the services will bring in around 300 jobs when completed, plus 200 temporary jobs in the construction phase. Local farms should also see a boost in trade, as the aim is to source much of its produce from a 30 mile radius.

However, following meetings with Stroud district council, environmental groups are fiercely opposing the ‘eco-service-station’, claiming that the development will scar the surrounding landscape on the site at Onger's Farm, Brookthorpe (a designated area of outstanding natural beauty), and fear that by improving facilities for motorists and, it will in-fact encourage more people to drive and potentially even attract them to visit the new attraction. In addition, the carbon emissions and noise pollution produced during construction will disrupt wildlife habitats and further damage the environment.

A disapproving Gloucestershire Green Party Councillor, John Marjoram, expressed that, despite an ‘eco-friendly design’, it was, nonetheless, still a motorway service station, designed to make car travel more convenient, a view shared by the site's editor, Mark Goodge, who described the controversial idea of an environmentally friendly service station as an oxymoron.

Lucy's article was also featured on www.responsibletravelnews.com

Image taken from thetraveldepartment.co.uk

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