Campaigners appeal for help as plans go on show

PUBLISHED: 12:09 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:05 06 May 2010

CONCERNED residents living near a site earmarked for a giant rail freight terminal turned out at an exhibition today (Thursday), only to see exactly the same plans as those fought off during a lengthily planning inquiry last year.

Helioslough s applicatio

CONCERNED residents living near a site earmarked for a giant rail freight terminal turned out at an exhibition today (Thursday), only to see exactly the same plans as those fought off during a lengthily planning inquiry last year.

Helioslough's application to build a 3.5 million-square-foot depot on the former Radlett Aerodrome site in Park Street was turned down by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, last year.

But her fundamental ground for refusal was a lack of proof that there were no better sites for such a proposal in the north west quadrant of the M25.

And within weeks of the decision, which followed a seven-week inquiry, Helioslough vowed to resubmit another application after doing more work on the alternative sites survey.

The public exhibition detailing their plans opened at 11am this morning at the Noke Hotel in Chiswell Green and local residents poured in steadily.

They were met at the entrance of the marquee hosting the exhibition by STRiFE (Stop the Rail Freight Campaign) protesters collecting signatures on a petition opposing the application. The group made their own case at the public inquiry funded with donations from the local community.

The inquiry, which cost taxpayers nearly £400,000, followed the district council unanimously refusing the application supported by Herts County Council, the East of England Regional Assembly, First Capital Connect and the Highways Agency.

Cathy Bolshaw, who spearheaded the campaign, said everyone was devastated that they have to fight the proposal again having succeeded in doing so last year.

She said: "It's back again but we will fight it again. We have got to try and protect our area." She said the group have many plans of attack under wraps.

Laurie Hart, the chairman of the Bricket Wood Residents' Association, was at the exhibition and was disappointed to see the plans back on the table again.

He said that their main concern was the likely increase in traffic if the terminal is built.

The proposal for the site, which is still owned by the county council, includes five huge warehouses with 20-metre high lighting masts and parking for more than 2,000 vehicles.

Helioslough had also promised a by-pass for Park Street and the creation of a country park alongside the terminal to mitigate the loss of Green Belt land.

Speaking to the Herts Advertiser at the exhibition, Helioslough's Simon Hoare said that the new application complete with the alternative sites survey should be with the district council before the end of this month.

He said: "We remain convinced that this is both the right and appropriate site to support the delivery of a strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI). We have drawn comfort that the inspector's report and the Secretary of State's letter only dismissed the appeal on the basis of the alternative sites report. And that's being robustly and proactively addressed in the evaluation of the second application."

He said that the Government's policy is still to move freight off the roads and onto the rails with SFRIs around the M25.

He added: "This is an appropriate site to deliver such a facility. And we can do so without causing disruption and loss of amenity to local residents."

STRiFE is appealing for more help to enable them to fight their case again.

More information can be found at www.strife.biz or by emailing info@strife.biz or calling 07710 327969.

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