Row over M1 services plan at Chapeltown

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Acres of a Sheffield woodland could be chopped down to make way for a new motorway service station.

Plans for a new £40million stop at junction 35 on the M1 - near to Chapeltown - have been unveiled to the public.

Public consultation for the proposal, which seeks permission to build the services across 20 acres by Smithy Wood to the south-west of the junction, launches this week.

The plans are expected to be met with opposition from residents.

Nearby Hesley Wood is being used by firm Recycoal, which won approval in January to excavate hundreds of tonnes of coal from the land over the next five years.

Land close to the site has also been earmarked for the Government’s HS2 high-speed rail link.

But developers the Extra Motorway Service Area say there is a need for services at the spot because drivers currently have to travel up to 42 miles on the M1 stretch without being able to stop.

Safety guidance states that motorists should have the opportunity to stop on a motorway journey every 30 minutes or 12 to 28 miles depending on traffic conditions.

Chief executive Andrew Long said: “Motorway service areas are obviously a commercial enterprise, but they also play an important road safety role.

“If people are having to go in excess of half an hour’s travelling distance between service areas then that can give rise to fatigue-related accidents.”

Leaflets outlining the plans have been delivered to homes in Chapeltown, and two public exhibitions will be held at Ecclesfield School on Friday from 6.30pm to 9.30pm and Saturday at 10am until 3.30pm.

Members of the public will be able to view the plans and ask questions.

A planning application is expected to be submitted to Sheffield Council in the autumn.

Developers say the services would create around 300 full-time jobs.

Work could start next summer, with a planned completion date of summer 2015.

Former councillor and Chapeltown resident Colin Taylor said: “If it gets passed one problem will be that while work is going on at Recycoal, this will start.

“It means more trees being destroyed and I am not convinced about the necessity of it all.”