Rail freight fight

PUBLISHED: 13:49 18 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:11 06 May 2010

SIR - I wish to register my strong objection to the proposal by Helioslough to develop a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange facility on Green Belt land adjacent to Park Street and Frogmore and Radlett Road. My objection firstly concerns the serious loss o

SIR - I wish to register my strong objection to the proposal by Helioslough to develop a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange facility on Green Belt land adjacent to Park Street and Frogmore and Radlett Road.

My objection firstly concerns the serious loss of a very large acreage of Green Belt should the proposal be given approval. Generally we are continually faced with ever mounting environmental problems, diminution in the quality of life and marginalisation or loss of species caused by our continuing development and destruction of the natural environment.

I believe the time has long passed when, at the very least, all remaining Green Belt land should be completely protected from any form of building development if we are going to be serious about tackling and reversing the environmental damage we have already caused - not least because of our responsibility for the consequences on future generations. If, as Labour Cllr Martin Leach suggests in his letter last week, it is the ever expanding population that is driving the threat of Green Belt development, then that issue needs to be sensibly addressed instead of the contrived silence or denial of the matter. It is after all his party's government that has presided over the recent inflation in the population either without regard for the consequences or in spite of them.

The loss of Green Belt in the particular area of Park Street and Frogmore would have especially harmful consequences for local residents because the area is surrounded by a major road and motorway network resulting in air pollution levels that, without being added to by the Rail Freight Terminal operation, already regularly exceed the legal limit set down by European Directive. This plume of toxic air, which it is not unreasonable to suggest will be extending to Radlett and the south of St Albans, is further set to worsen as the M25 is due to be widened following on from the recent completion of the M1 widening programme.

The local environment cannot cope with yet another heavily polluting facility, such as the proposed Rail Freight Terminal, without even more serious consequences on the health and welfare of the local population. Young children (asthma is a particular issue in this area), the elderly and those suffering respiratory problems will be especially affected and the situation will be aggravated by the global rise in average temperatures especially in the summer months. This is not an inconsequential issue - a recent report states that "at least 24,000 people die early every year because of air pollution" that exceeds legal limits and the economic cost of this tragic number of casualties is estimated to be up to £20billion. So it is not just desirable that we stop the Rail Freight Terminal being built, it is imperative.

Presently the proposed site for the Rail freight Terminal has been extensively planted with trees, two lakes have been created and the rest of the land given over to sheep grazing pasture. The area is providing the locality with a habitat for wildlife and flora and fresh clean air that is helping to offset the pollution levels mentioned above.

If the Rail Freight Terminal goes ahead not only would this badly needed environmental utility be destroyed but it would be replaced by a heavily polluting facility involving vast numbers of heavy goods vehicles operating 24 hours every day of the week both on the site and to and from the site onto the locally surrounding roads. To make this double whammy still worse the outpouring of HGVs and other vehicles from the proposed Rail Freight Terminal would be joining the traffic already on the local road network which is often at a crawl or standstill, thus considerably increasing the polluting effects more so.

You can be sure that those highly-paid Helioslough executives and their advisers in this matter will not be living in a toxic environment next to a Strategic Rail Freight Terminal and a widened, heavily congested M25 motorway. Chances are that, like the head of a building firm I spoke to recently who advocated building all over the Green Belt in areas where he does not live, they will be living in very large houses in very nice countryside locations with acre-sized gardens and clean air.

PAUL WILKINSON

Watling Street

Park Street

St Albans


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