A £200 MILLION freight hub at one of Scotland's biggest regeneration sites would be a "white elephant" that would change a whole town "forever", an MSP claims.

Logistics operator Russell Group wants to build a new HQ and railhead logistics hub on derelict land where the Ravenscraig steel mill once stood. The plant was the largest of its kind in Western Europe but closed under Thatcher.

The new development plan promises to include a training academy and test facility for innovation, and to create hundreds of jobs in the Motherwell area.

But the land was initially earmarked for leisure and retail development and a housing development sits alongside. As many as 1000 properties have either been approved or built and residents have hit out at the shift in plans for the land.

More than 600 formal objections were lodged against the proposals over traffic and otehr issues, and Ravenscraig Community Action Group has been campaigning against the development, which was a major local issue in this year's Holyrood election. The matter is before North Lanarkshire Council.

Now Gillian Mackay of the Scottish Greens has joined the community group to launch an online consultation asking locals to submit their vision for the former steelworks site.

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Mackay, who was elected in May, said: "This white elephant proposal would change the character of Motherwell forever and it is not the vision that residents were sold for their community. The developers are talking green and acting dirty.

"It’s time for the new community Lanarkshire was promised, building back better from the pandemic, not massive industrial buildings and 800 dirty diesel HGV’s passing by a number of schools in the town 24 hours a day.

"I strongly oppose this development and would encourage other elected representatives, Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, North Lanarkshire Council, net zero public agencies and partners, to work with residents to develop alternative, more ambitious and more appropriate proposals for this national development priority."

She went on: "COP26 is just round the corner and the eyes of the world are on Scotland. This would see an increase in light and air pollution, have a huge environmental and ecological impact, as well as loss of ancient woodland.

"We’re asking the people of Motherwell to put forward their vision for the future. Do we want more over-industrialisation, or do we want a fairer, greener, society committed to tackling emissions?”

Elaine Morris of Ravenscraig Community Action Group commented: "I am furious and angry about the change of plans for this area. These proposals are incompatible with the development plan, the local plan and the Ravenscraig masterplan. Like nearly 1000 families, we came to Ravenscraig on the promise of a new, thriving, sustainable and safe community. It’s a direct broken promise made to local families."

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Tom Faichen, who is also part of the group, added: "People have no idea of the scale of the plans or the negative impact on communities – from Carfin and Newarthill, right through Ravenscraig, Motherwell and down Airbles Road. When they do find out, they’re furious.

"We want communities, councillors and parliamentarians to urgently demand more for Scotland’s largest brownfield regeneration site. We demand a better choice for Ravenscraig."

The current plans are the result of protracted talks between site developer Ravenscraig Ltd – a joint venture involving Scottish Enterprise, Tata Steel and Wilson Bowden Developments – and Russell Group. Nick Davies, director of the developer, has said the scheme "would drive real tangible benefits in terms of economic impact and job creation, as well as being a catalyst for other development" and "deserves to be considered on its merits".

North Lanarkshire Council and the Russell Group have been contacted for comment.