The sale of Green Belt land for the construction of a rail freight terminal has been referred for further scrutiny.

The sale will now be discussed by Hertfordshire County Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, May 24.

Planning permission for a rail freight terminal on the former site of Radlett Airfield has previously been approved by once-secretary of state Eric Pickles.


Hertfordshire County Council have already agreed to sell the land to rail freight developers SEGRO, but no sale has yet taken place.

The local authority has always claimed to be a reluctant seller of the land, however, Liberal Democrat councillor Sandy Walkington now claims to have "successfully forced" the council to refer its decision for further scrutiny.

Herts Advertiser: Liberal Democrat councillor Sandy Walkington.Liberal Democrat councillor Sandy Walkington. (Image: Sandy Walkington)

Cllr Walkington said: "Frankly, it was shocking that the deal was about to be done by officers with elected members expected to accept the decision as a fait accompli.

"As local campaigners have shown, there are a whole load of unanswered questions and the rush to sell the land stinks...

"...The county council’s legal advice says that the council can choose not to sell the land if there have been major changes in circumstances since the Secretary of State granted planning permission.

"Well, since that decision in 2014 we have had Brexit with all its implications for railfreight, and there has also been the entirely unforeseeable explosion in e-commerce with the consequent huge increase in white van traffic.


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"Both of these are potentially hugely impactful on the need for the terminal and the kind of traffic and burden on the road network it will generate."

When approached for comment, a spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council maintained that the council has "no legal option other than to sell the land".

The spokesperson continued: "County council officers have been working to finalise the legal agreements and complete the sale of land at the former Radlett aerodrome site to SEGRO since Cabinet approved the sale of land in December 2022.

“The Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on Wednesday 24 May will give councillors an opportunity to discuss the process which resulted in the decision to sell the land, and the reasons behind it.

Herts Advertiser: Hertfordshire County Council maintain that they have no legal option but to sell the land.Hertfordshire County Council maintain that they have no legal option but to sell the land. (Image: Archant)

“Since the planning application for a rail freight terminal on this site was submitted to St Albans District Council in 2006, the county council consistently objected to the scheme.

"However, following the secretary of state’s decision, after a public inquiry, to give planning permission for the rail freight terminal, we reluctantly accept that we have no legal option other than to sell the land.

"Our focus is therefore on trying to negotiate the best deal we can for local residents.”

A campaign group named 'Save St Albans: Fight the Freight' have launched a petition calling on the council to prevent the sale of the land.

Herts Advertiser: Save St Albans: Fight the Freight have organised a number of public meetings.Save St Albans: Fight the Freight have organised a number of public meetings. (Image: Dee Young)

This petition has now reached almost 8,000 signatures.

A series of public meetings have also been organised by the group, starting with one at 2pm this Sunday (May 21) at Vision Hall, Radlett.

Terrie Smith, one of the group's leaders, said: "The green belt land is home to all kinds of wildlife.

"If Herts County Council really want to be seen as green and protectors of the environment, they would stop destruction of this open area and stop the sale to developers who want to build huge warehouses there.

"At the moment their stance is total hypocrisy.”