PLANS to enhance rail operations at Southampton port have been thrown out by civic chiefs after a two-year battle.

Southampton City Council rejected plans from Network Rail, which wants to construct two additional railway sidings for freight to serve the Port of Southampton on land at Redbridge Wharf Park in Redbridge.

Network Rail submitted a planning application to Southampton City Council in early 2015 and residents have been battling to get it ditched ever since.

The operator claims the project would enable local and national freight operating companies to meet growing demand by providing additional sidings to accommodate 775-metre trains as well as increasing the total number of freight trains per day by 50 per cent.

But there has been backlash from residents who raised concerns about noise, rail and light pollution from the 24-hour operation.

Councillor Andrew Pope, who represents Redbridge on Southampton City Council, said: “We defeated Network Rail’s plan to expand Southampton Port.

“Network Rail is likely to come back with another plan but we will object to any future similar proposals, working with residents.”

Heather Boyes, who has lived in Redbridge for 25 years, said: “The project is lethal, when the trains leave Redbridge they cause a very high level of toxic fumes which chokes me. Sometimes I cannot even open the bedroom windows.”

Isobel Howard, who has lived on Tate Road for 16 years, said: “If this scheme went ahead it would devalue our houses.”

Southampton Common and Parks Protection Society said in a statement: “The proposed development would seriously damage the park not just by taking land from it but also by removing the semi-mature tree-planting which at present screens the park from the railway.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We’re obviously disappointed our application was rejected. This upgrade scheme is essential to providing benefits for the freight industry, and we want to find a way forward that’s agreeable to the public and the authority. We’re considering our plans.”

Alastair Welch, director of Southampton Port, added: “We support the more efficient use of the rail infrastructure to enable longer trains to operate to and from the port and have been working with Network Rail and Southampton City Council over a number of years to further increase our rail share, which at 40 per cent for container traffic is the highest of any UK port.

“Through this continued partnership, we look forward to finding ways to further grow the rail mode share at the port in future.”