Councillors met last night to discuss major plans for a motorway service station on greenbelt land.

The planning committee at Three Rivers District Council were given an opportunity to scrutinise proposals by Moto for a service station (MSA) off the A41 near Kings Langley.

The MSA includes plans for a petrol station forecourt, shops, a drive-thru coffee unit, an 80-room lodge, car parking, and parking for HGV's. It will be made accessible via a new roundabout which would be built on the A41 between the M25 at j20 and St Paul's Church.

Watford Observer:

Artist's impression of the Moto site

More than a thousand people in Three Rivers have objected to the plans.

Yesterday's meeting provided a chance for councillors to raise any questions on existing information or seek any updates but the committee had no power at this stage to refuse permission, because Moto is still in the process of finalising its plans and working to solve issues raised by consultees.

At yesterday's meeting, Cllr Sara Bedford described the number of objections from major consultees for the proposal as "unprecedented".

The Environment Agency, Hertfordshire County Council's highways authority, and Affinity Water are just some of the major organisations troubled by the plans while Highways England says "more information is required".

Extra, which has submitted plans for a rival MSA between j16 and j17 in the Chiltern District Council area have also objected to Moto's scheme.

Watford Observer:

Artist's impression of Extra's plans between j16 and j17 on the M25

At the meeting, David Zerny, who lives in Bucks Hill, spoke on behalf of numerous resident associations which have joined forces to fight against Moto's plans.

He said he is worried that if the MSA went ahead, Hunton Bridge and Kings Langley would effectively "become joined up". The point of greenbelt land is to prevent urban sprawl.

He added: "Allowing Moto to build an MSA here would have a huge impact on the amount of traffic using our local roads, which are already overcrowded. Accidents on the motorway often result in gridlock across the surrounding area."

In the meeting, Cllr Bedford commented: "I don't understand where Moto think the extra capacity on the roads will come from", acknowledging the queues regularly seen on this section of the A41.

The council's case officer, Adam Ralton, said Moto is currently undertaking modelling to look at the impact of traffic on the network.

County councillor Phil Williams, who is not on the committee, also spoke.

He said: "I think the site near Maple Cross is probably more suitable due to this one only being nine miles from South Mimms. I'm also concerned about how close Moto's site is to the River Colne, as well as pollution and traffic. I hope this is all taken into consideration."

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Zerny  said: "Kings Langley and District Residents' Association are strongly opposed to Moto's proposal. Many members of the public attended the meeting, and it shows that people really care about their environment and will speak up if they feel it is under threat.

"We hope they will support our campaign by joining us or visiting"

The council now waits for Moto to finalise its plans and an official decision on the MSA is not expected until at least early 2020.

Cllr Bedford, who is also leader of the council, said: "The delays are worrying and frustrating for local residents."

The latest report on Moto's application can be found here