Shropshire Star

Minister visits former Ironbridge Power Station to see how rail link could benefit county

The Rail Minister has visited the site of the demolished Ironbridge Power Station to discuss how a new rail link could be created.

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Rail Minister Huw Merriman was joined by leading Shropshire Councillors and Stuart Anderson MP on a visit to the county.

Huw Merriman MP, Minister for Rail, visited the former power station with senior Shropshire councillors and Stuart Anderson MP, who will be standing to replace Philip Dunne as the Conservative MP for South Shropshire at the next general election.

During the visit they discussed plans to enhance rail links in the area – particularly at the former power station site, where hundreds of new homes will be created as part of a major development.

Shropshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Dan Morris, as well as Councillors Claire Wild and Dan Thomas, also attended to look at how the infrastructure could work.

The site is located half a mile upstream from Ironbridge. The power station opened in 1969 and stopped generating electricity in 2015.

Demolition work to clear the site for development began in 2019 and concluded in 2021.

In addition to the new homes, the site is set to host a retirement village, employment land, leisure facilities, a new primary school, and associated infrastructure.

Mr Anderson said that he wants strong transport links from the site to the wider area and beyond.

Discussions at the meeting focused on the role that Very Light Rail (VLR) could play in creating a green transport hub for the local area.

Very Light Rail in Coventry is an emerging technology being researched and developed by Coventry City Council and West Midlands Combined Authority.

It comes as the Prime Minister’s Network North announcement detailed a number of commitments to rail enhancements across the country, using funding from the cancelled Phase 2 of HS2.

Mr Anderson said he is hopeful some of the investment could be used in the region, including to assist with the Ironbridge development.

He said: “It was excellent to welcome Rail Minister Huw Merriman to Shropshire so that he could find out more about our plans to ensure that the Ironbridge power plant redevelopment is well served with strong transport links – including options for Very Light Rail serving as a passenger line for residents travelling in the area.

"I am assured that the Government recognises the value of rail connectivity for Shropshire and the role that it could play in unlocking opportunities for our county to thrive. I would love to see better local rail links, enabling us to build better connected economies and vibrant communities.”

Mr Merriman said: “I was delighted to take up Stuart’s invitation to visit Shropshire and find out more about local plans for a green transport hub focused around Very Light Rail.

"Our plan to improve our country’s transport, Network North, has freed up £36 billion to reinvest into projects that benefit towns, cities, and rural areas across the country.

"Projects like these could play a vital role in connecting communities and keeping the economy moving, ensuring that places like Shropshire have a bright future by providing the area with the huge regeneration opportunities it deserves.”