Herts Ad presents petition opposing rail freight development to county council

Herts Ad editor Matt Adams, Anne Main MP and Cllr Sandy Walkington with rail freight campaigners out

Herts Ad editor Matt Adams, Anne Main MP and Cllr Sandy Walkington with rail freight campaigners outside County Hall - Credit: Archant

The Herts Advertiser was at the forefront of the latest campaign to prevent the sale of Radlett airfield for a rail freight terminal.

The newspaper’s editor Matt Adams addressed a packed meeting at County Hall this morning, and handed over a petition of around 11,500 signatures calling on the council not to sell their 300 acre share of the site to rail depot developers Helioslough.

He told councillors and members of the public: “The impact of this scheme goes beyond the district of St Albans and will affect thousands of people across the county and further afield. It will completely transform this part of Hertfordshire forever, and there is unprecedented grassroots opposition to the scheme and the sale of this Green Belt site.

“Related lorry movements alone will impact on the county as a whole, with major routes clogged up by increased amount of traffic, leading to congestion and delays which will potentially damage wider city and business community, and also further reduce air quality, which is already poor in this part of the county.

“We believe the county council should strive to protect this site as part of the Green Belt, but if this is not possible then it should proactively seek alternative uses which would secure at least equivalent public value, instead of relying on the one option of development for a rail freight depot.”

The petition was instigated by local resident Jay Baillie, who was also present at the meeting, and supported by St Albans MP Anne Main and members of STRiFE (Stop the Rail Freight Exchange), as well as the Herts Advertiser, which has campaigned against the rail freight scheme for almost a decade.

Cllr Sandy Walkington, Liberal Democrat county councillor for St Albans South, who has also opposed the scheme, said: “It is the biggest single issue to have confronted this county and this council in modern times. It goes way beyond party politics.”

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A motion created by council leader Cllr Robert Gordon in response to the petition was unanimously approved by all members.

It recognised the council’s prime duty was to local residents and Hertfordshire, but warned that legally they might not have any choice but to sell the land, at which time they would seek alternative uses for the site to secure at least equivalent value.

Full report in this week’s Herts Advertiser.