BAA's Alconbury plan is grounded

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BAA, the airports operator, has suffered a blow to its plans to develop a former military air base into a road and rail distribution centre, writes Philip Thornton.

A plan by ADL, a joint venture of BAA and Kingspark Developments, to convert the airfield at Alconbury in Cambridgeshire was rejected last week by the planning committee of Huntingdonshire District Council. Councillors voted not to accept the plan and meet again today to formulate their grounds.

A spokesman for ADL said it was disappointed at the decision, which was contrary to officers' recommendation. He said the centre would have created 7,000 new jobs over the 7 million square foot site, although he did not specify the value of the project.

The spokesman said: "We are waiting to see the reason for the decision and depending on that we may or may not appeal."

The setback is the latest for BAA over Alconbury. ADL was forced to withdraw plans for an air freight terminal there in the face of strong public opposition.

Its current plan involves taking lorries off the road and putting freight on to trains. The site is near the A1 and A14 roads and could be linked to the East Coast main rail line.