The proposed development of a rail freight terminal on green belt land can be stopped according to the 'Save St Albans' campaign group, who have sought independent legal advice.

'Save St Albans: Fight the Freight' - who have been protesting outside the Hertfordshire County Council building in Hertford - have contacted planning lawyer Paul Brown KC.

According to the lawyer, despite planning permission being approved by the Secretary of State nine years ago, Hertfordshire County Council do not need to sell the former Radlett Airfield land.

Herts Advertiser: The group claim that Herts County Council can avoid selling the land to rail freight developers Segro.The group claim that Herts County Council can avoid selling the land to rail freight developers Segro. (Image: Dee Young)

The lawyer claims that a sale can be avoided if the council can show that material changes would mean that planning permission may not be approved today.


Councillor Nuala Webb said: "By providing the council and all county councillors with the independent legal advice, we have shown that it is within their power to reject the sale for what would be a catastrophic development.

"We think many of the councillors felt they had no legal option other than to sell the land, but this advice clearly shows there is a choice and that they can rely on the wealth of new factors since 2014 to reject the sale.”

Herts Advertiser: A petition to suspend the sale of land has now reached 5,100 signatures.A petition to suspend the sale of land has now reached 5,100 signatures. (Image: Dee Young)

The news comes after St Albans MP Daisy Cooper raised a question in Parliament, as to whether the Department for Transport had received any correspondence with Hertfordshire County Council regarding the county's rail freight requirements.

The reply from Transport Minister Huw Merriman, received on March 13, confirmed that "there have been no recent direct discussions with, or correspondence received from, Hertfordshire County Council in relation to changes to rail freight capacity requirements".


Get more stories like this delivered to your inbox every week by signing up to our newsletter.


Daisy Cooper MP's question followed a letter she had received from Hertfordshire County Council, stating that it was "not aware of any material change in circumstances" which might have allowed them to keep the land as Green Belt.

Ms Cooper added: "We now know they weren't aware of anything because they hadn't bothered to find out."

When approached for comment, a spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council told The Herts Advertiser: "As part of the sale process, the county council has sought and received external updated opinion from Counsel.

"We have made this advice public for review by any interested parties.

"Due to commercial sensitivity, a small section has been redacted but the premise remains that following the approval by the Secretary of State for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange on this site we are obligated to sell our land interest if a number of conditions are met.”