Concerns about St Albans rail freight terminal taken to transport secretary Chris Grayling

The proposed site of the Radlett rail freight depot. Picture: DANNY LOO

The proposed site of the Radlett rail freight depot. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Archant

Fears about a new rail freight terminal planned for St Albans have been taken to the top levels of government.

Residents fought for 10 years against the bid for the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) planned for St Albans’ Green Belt in Park Street.

But the developers, Helioslough, were granted permission in 2014 by former communities secretary Eric Pickles with attached conditions, such as the creation of a county park and a relief road in the area.

Yet details are only just surfacing about what the SRFI actually means in terms of appearance, build and logistics.

St Albans MP Anne Main took her and the community’s concerns about the plans to transport secretary Chris Grayling in Westminster.

She said Mr Grayling was listening carefully and added: “I have never had any confidence that SRFI is deliverable. Eleven years on and I am still non the wiser.

“During the meeting, the minister reiterated that the Thameslink project has been the biggest upgrade to passenger services.

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“I asked him to therefore to satisfy himself, and St Albans commuters, by looking at this matter closely and asking Network Rail for the details of the scheduling timetable.”

The proposed site is still owned by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) and Helioslough will have to make them an offer before any work can begin.

In a St Albans District Council (SADC) planning referrals committee on July 3, councillors raised queries about how the full application is progressing.

District councillor David Yates was scathing when discussing the future of Hedges Farm by the site.

“Other than watching the sheep get torn to bits by dogs being walked and the opportunity to watch cattle starving as well, it just doesn’t look like a viable farm and more like a sort of way to teach young people about death,” he said.

Chairman of the committee, Cllr Salih Gaygusuz, said: “Permission has been granted, we are just here listening to progress so there’s no point spending time debating because we are where we are, but your comments are being noted - not that it will make any difference.”

When the possibility of decrease in air quality was being discussed, Cllr Eileen Harris asked: “Is it too much to ask to have an air monitor?”