Council leader vows to take action if rail freight depot causes congestion

St Albans district council leader Chris White.

St Albans district council leader Chris White said: "We have done all we can, with the active support of the community, to oppose this monstrous development, battling against it for many years now." - Credit: SADC

The leader of St Albans district council has expressed his disappointment over news that the controversial rail freight depot is to move ahead.

Developers Segro told MP Daisy Cooper they are aiming to complete the purchase of the former Radlett airfield site from Herts county council, the Gorhambury Estate and Tarmac by the end of this year.

They say they will look to start 'enabling works' on the site - a 3.5 million sqm area of Green Belt - within the next 12 months.

SADC leader Cllr Chris White said: “Daisy Cooper has updated us on her meeting with Segro.

“It does seem that work will start on building the depot within the next 12 months and that is very disappointing.

“We have done all we can, with the active support of the community, to oppose this monstrous development, battling against it for many years now.

“It is outrageous that such a huge depot, spread over the equivalent of 490 football pitches, should be built so close to residential communities.

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“Like Daisy, we will continue to act in the interests of our residents and closely monitor the impact the development has on the surrounding area.

“We will not hesitate to use all the powers we can to intervene if the depot does cause road congestion or other nuisances.”

“I’ve been very vocal about my opposition to this freight terminal for years. Since being elected, I’ve secured a Parliamentary debate on the issue, challenged Ministers to revisit their decision, tabled Parliamentary questions designed to encourage the government to consider other uses for the site, and written to the Herts County Council National Highways to ask if the conditions for highway improvements – which were set out eight years ago – are still relevant today.

Daisy Cooper has also elaborated on the discussions she had with Segro: “I agreed to the meeting request from Segro as I wanted to ask them whether they still intended to go ahead with the development, and so that I could directly communicate my grave concerns about the impact of their proposal on residents.”

“During the meeting I repeated my opposition to their plans – of which they were well aware - and made clear that they would need to prevent lorries from parking up in villages and the surrounding area, which would cause a real nuisance to village residents.

“I also insisted that - if Segro do manage to acquire the land - then they would need to quickly establish a mechanism to work with local residents, so I’m pleased Segro has indeed confirmed that they will establish a local steering group with resident representatives.

"They’ve also confirmed they have no plans to operate any 'lorry to lorry' transfers on site, and they promised to consider my suggestion of including high quality HGV driver facilities, so lorries don’t use the neighbouring roads and communities for parking and rest stops.

“I appreciate that this news will be a huge blow to everyone who’s fought these plans. If they do go ahead, please rest assured that I’ll be working with local councillors to ensure we can, as far as possible, protect Park Street, Bricket Wood, Napsbury Park, London Colney, Colney Heath and beyond, from the impact and ensure residents’ voices are heard at every stage.”