Call to reopend Radlett rail freight inquiry

CHANGES in circumstance mean that the inquiry into a giant rail freight interchange in Park Street should be reopened according to two local objectors.

Sandy Walkington, Lib Dem prospective candidate for St Albans at the last election, and Lib Dem colleague David Parry made individual objections at the last public inquiry into the Helioslough scheme for the former Radlett Airfield.

As a result they were asked for their views on how the Secretary of State for Communities, Eric Pickles, should respond to a subsequent High Court order quashing his decision to refuse the scheme.

Said Sandy: “As well as technical legal questions which were more a matter for the council lawyers, we were asked if there were any new matters or change in circumstances which we considered material to the Secretary of State’s further consideration of this appeal and also whether the inquiry should be reopened.”

He maintained two substantial changes in circumstance warranted re-opening the inquiry – the impact on local roads of the widening of the M25 and support in Bedfordshire for a strategic railfreight terminal at the Sundon Quarry site.

Sandy went on: “The M25 widening is now an actuality but we do not have any evidence as to the impact this has had on local feeder and distributor roads.”

David added: “Traffic was a key issue in determining whether the Park Street site could accommodate a huge lorry terminal.

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“We just don’t know how much additional traffic is being generated on local roads because of the widened M25.

“It seems obvious that there should be new traffic counts which could be presented as evidence to a re-opened inquiry and allow this issue to be properly considered.”

With regard to the Sundon quarry site, Sandy said local plannng authorities in Beds had confirmed they wanted it for a railfreight terminal but that was only after the close of the public inquiry into the Radlett Airfield scheme.

He added: “The argument made at the previous inquiry that Sundon was not sufficiently advanced to be a viable alternative has now been blown out of the water.

“The new coalition government is supporting localism. Well this local support in Bedfordshire for a different, better option, is another significant new circumstance. It must be taken into account.”