10 Downing Street's snub to St Albans rail freight petition

PUBLISHED: 07:04 26 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:56 06 May 2010

A RESPONSE to the anti-rail freight depot scheme for Park Street on the 10 Downing Street website has been viewed by some as an indication of where the government stands on the issue. The e-petition calling on the Prime Minister to reject the Helioslough

A RESPONSE to the anti-rail freight depot scheme for Park Street on the 10 Downing Street website has been viewed by some as an indication of where the government stands on the issue.

The e-petition calling on the Prime Minister to reject the Helioslough plans for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) on the former Radlett Airfield went live before the latest public inquiry shortly before Christmas.

It listed destruction of the Green Belt, unacceptable road traffic and congestion, a sharp increase in noise and air pollution and a huge impact on the local community as just some of the reasons to reject the application

But in its response, the Prime Minister's Office says that while it would not be appropriate to comment on a proposal that is awaiting determination after a planning inquiry, the government is committed to the development of a network of SRFIs across the country to encourage a shift for freight from road to rail where it is economic and sustainable to do so.

The response also mentions that record levels of investment have been made to support continued growth including £200 million towards the development of a strategic freight network and over £150 million to improve freight infrastructure.

It adds: "This investment is designed to make the best use of existing and future rail resources as well as targeting investment to improve the efficiency and reliability of the network to accommodate the predicted growth in rail freight up to 2030."

The response has been taken as an indication that the government will look favourably on the scheme despite the volume of local objections.

But Cathy Bolshaw of action group STRiFE - Stop The Rail Freight Exchange - said this week that she felt the government really had no option other than to take that tack on the issue.

She added: "I admit that it looks like the government is agreeing with it but by the same token I also feel that what else are they going to say because it is government policy.

"In our case by the time this decision is made there could be a different government."

A decision on the public inquiry result is due by June 23.


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