Herts Ad comment: Betrayed by the county council over rail freight

Put the Brakes on Freight - Herts Advertiser campaign

Put the Brakes on Freight - Herts Advertiser campaign - Credit: Archant

So this is what it has come down to.

Years of battling on every front to prevent a green lung in the district from being concreted over to become a giant rail freight depot looks as though it is going to end with the sale of Radlett Airfield to developers Helioslough.

The county council’s cabinet are charged with deciding whether or not to sell off Radlett Airfield to Helioslough - or go along with the wishes of all political parties and most of the population of St Albans and desist it.

And if they follow their officers’ recommendation next Monday week, they will sell the site to Helioslough for a small fortune which will benefit the rest of Herts while the historic city of St Albans is landed with a monstrosity on its doorstep.

The county council’s argument has always been that it must consider the benefits to Herts as a whole and cannot look at just one district in isolation.

But, unsurprisingly, as it is not proposed for the divisions which have Tory county councillors, the view seems to be that St Albans will just have to live with it while the county council pockets the money.

It is not surprising that the word betrayal is being bandied around St Albans. Public inquiries have been fought, legal intervention has been sought and the largest ever petition opposing a scheme presented to the county council but, as now seems likely, all to no avail.

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For at the end of the day, it seems the county council is running scared of Helioslough, the company which has spent millions to try and get permission for the rail freight depot.

Independent legal advice warns the county council that if they don’t go ahead with the sale of Radlett Airfield and decide to hang on it despite losing the opportunity of pocketing a huge sum, they can expect a challenge in the courts on the grounds that they would be acting irrationally and unlawfully.

No matter how much the district council and the local population have paid out through the pressure group STRiFE to fight the scheme, the county council does not want to find itself in that position - oh no it doesn’t.

Although it is the eleventh hour, perhaps it is time to remind the county council that the people of this district pay their wages like the rest of Herts and deserve far better treatment than to have a prime site thrown to Helioslough for a scheme which will change the topography of St Albans forever.