Rail Freight Inquiry Date Agreed

PUBLISHED: 17:48 08 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:30 06 May 2010

A DATE and preliminary timescale for the second public inquiry into proposals to build a huge rail freight terminal on Green Belt land in Park Street was ratified today (Thursday.) Legal teams representing the district council, action group STRiFE and dev

A DATE and preliminary timescale for the second public inquiry into proposals to build a huge rail freight terminal on Green Belt land in Park Street was ratified today (Thursday.)

Legal teams representing the district council, action group STRiFE and developers Helioslough gathered this morning to discuss matters at a pre-inquiry hearing chaired by planning inspector Andrew Mead, who will determine the outcome of the appeal.

Although the council raised concerns that the November 24 start for the inquiry left them little time to prepare their case, Mr Mead explained that the date was set by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, John Denham.

But Mr Mead emphasised that he has the power to adjourn the inquiry once it had started.

It was also agreed that the inquiry should last 16 days, despite the council's original calls for it to last for 24 days - a similar length to the original inquiry.

Mr Mead said: "If it does run for the same duration as before, something is wrong."

The council, STRiFE and many other interested parties believe Network Rail need to assess the freight path availability along the Midland Mainline before the inquiry starts.

As revealed by the Herts Advertiser in September, Network Rail has only recently commenced the feasibility study, the preliminary results of which won't be available until the end of the year.

Following the hearing, Sandy Walkington said: "The inspector said the date has to be November 24 which has been set by the Secretary of State. But he also indicated that it is in his power to adjourn the inquiry and I do think if the key evidence on railway paths and train traffic, which is crucial to this new inquiry, is not available then he should consider adjourning until that is available. Otherwise it becomes a completely hollow farce."

For the full story read the next edition of the Herts Advertiser.

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