The Government is to look again at plans for a motorway service station in the Meriden Gap because of a potential conflict with a proposed second runway at Birmingham Airport.

The service station between junctions five and six on the M42, which local residents have campaigned against for six years, will take up 65 acres of green belt land.

This includes an ancient woodland and a Grade II listed farmhouse.

The announcement from the Deputy Prime Minister's office goes against calls from Solihull Council that the service area should be finally scrapped, without any new inquiry, because of the Government's own plan for a second runway at Birmingham International Airport.

The news has met with a mixed reaction from opponents of the M42 service area, which was first given planning approval in 2001.

Maggie Throup, who leads the action group set up to fight the service station, said: "In one respect this is good news as it gives us the opportunity to put our case forward.

"We can highlight the many changes there have been since the first public inquiry back in


"However, it does question the validity of the original decision to give interim approval for this development and puts fresh uncertainty in the lives of the residents of Catherine de Barnes."

Conservative MP Caroline Spelman, MP for Meriden, said: "This news shows the conflict at the heart of the Labour government. It comes as no great surprise to learn that one department is just not communicating with another. "It appears that the Secretary of State feels that the possible second runway at Birmingham Airport now needs to be taken into consideration before the station gets any nearer being built. It's a classic case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing."

Solihull councillors have already rejected the motorway service area on the grounds that it would fall within the required Public Safety Zones around the proposed runway.

Approval for the service station was delayed while initial developers Blue Boar negotiated over auxiliary lanes for traffic and the future of the listed farmhouse.