HUNDREDS of people have objected to a controversial planning application which seeks to build a motorway service station near Basingstoke.

The application has been rumbling on since 2017, when Moto Hospitality put forward its plans to build a 100-room hotel, drive-thru Costa Coffee, petrol station and shop on agricultural land to the south of Junction 6 of the M3.

It was met with much criticism at the time, including from Basingstoke MP Maria Miller.

Following a further period of public consultation which ended last month, more than 350 people have now objected to the plans.

Basingstoke Transition Network (BTN), a local group which campaigns on environmental issues affecting the town, was one of those to object, saying the development “will immediately contribute to climate change”.

It said the borough already emits 1,400,00 tonnes of greenhouse gases each year, of which 40 per cent come from vehicles on the roads.

“This is a direct and major cause of climate change,” its statement said, adding: “The decision you make on this application will have a direct influence on the borough’s carbon emissions for the next 75-100 years.”

The borough council made a declaration on the climate emergency in the town in July last year, which was passed unanimously by the full council.

BTN has previously said the council is not doing enough on its promise to bring the town to “net zero” by 2030.

Its objection to the motorway service station said air quality in some parts of the town is “in excess of the legal maximum allowed” including along a stretch of the A339 between Chineham and Black Dam.

It adds: “The application will increase traffic in, and through, the town and along the ring road. People working at the site will have to travel there by car. People from around the surrounding areas will visit the site to use these facilities. This increase in traffic will increase the emissions of climate changing gases and will increase levels of air pollution, particularly on the already highly (and illegally) polluted stretch of the A339.”

David Shearer, who lives at Hackwood Park, was consulted on the application, but fears that many residents who will be affected by the proposals, including those in Black Dam and Grove, have not been informed that the application is still outstanding three years after it was submitted.

The 74-year-old former consultancy worker told the Gazette: “It is particularly of concern that the promoters of this project seem to be attempting to pressure Basingstoke council into making a decision during the present public health emergency when the opportunity for a full council meeting attended by and with speakers from the public cannot take place.”

He pointed out that in normal circumstances a public engagement event would be held for the communities affected, saying: “Basingstoke council has followed the letter of the law in terms of communicating this application to residents along the rural Tunworth Road but – because it is not obliged to do so – has not mailed the residents of Black Dam and the Grove Road areas both of which will be rather more severely impacted by any such development.”

He added: “It is a one-off speculative and highly opportunistic attempt to take advantage of the recent huge investment in sorting out the Black Dam interchange. Just as this junction works most of the time these days, we find a plan that inevitably will clog it up.”