Councils Radlett rail freight pledge

PUBLISHED: 12:58 24 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:36 06 May 2010

A RESOLUTE St Albans council has laid out its battleplan for how its case should be presented at the forthcoming public inquiry into plans for a huge rail freight terminal on Green Belt land in Park Street. At a special planning referrals committee meetin

A RESOLUTE St Albans council has laid out its battleplan for how its case should be presented at the forthcoming public inquiry into plans for a huge rail freight terminal on Green Belt land in Park Street.

At a special planning referrals committee meeting last Wednesday the council prepared their arguments which they hope will see off Helioslough's proposals for the former Radlett Aerodrome for the second time.

The 14 reasons on which the council refused permission for the 3.5 million-square-foot depot were discussed and one was withdrawn, while three others were amended.

The council's legal team advised the councillors on the changes following inspector Andrew Mead's warning about repeating old arguments without fresh evidence to justify it.

The council will no longer contend that the workforce will be unable to travel to work sustainably, that the funding of long-term management of the country park proposed to mitigate the loss of Green Belt is not addressed, nor that the applicant has failed to take mitigating measures to offset the harm of the development on the local footpath network.

The council also withdrew reason nine of their refusal entirely, which addressed the proposal's affect on air quality because the legal team said it would be difficult to prove.

Herts County Council is assessing the potential impact of the proposal on the local roads following additional information which has come from Helioslough.

This means it is not yet possible for the council to consider whether this element of the district council's case needs to be considered further at the inquiry.

The revised evidence will now be submitted to the inspector by Tuesday, October 27, the deadline he set for both sides at the pre-inquiry meeting earlier this month.

Planning portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Brazier, said he did not think the case would be hindered by the withdrawal of the arguments.

He said that between now and the start of the inquiry on November 24, which is scheduled to last for 16 days, the council will be focussing on a report they hope will prove that the Midland Mainline would be unable to cope with the additional freight trains.

Many objectors believe that the inquiry shouldn't go ahead in the absence of technical information on whether the rail paths are available, which will be included within a preliminary feasibility study by Network Rail due to be released at the end of the year.

Cllr Brazier said: "I think we have a very robust case and a strong case for the impact on the Green Belt in this area and I think the traffic is also a huge issue, as well as the impact on local residents. The case is still very strong."

He added: "We are going in there fighting.

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