More time for Radlett freight fight?

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A call is being made by the county council for more time to decide the future of Radlett Airfield where a giant rail freight depot is proposed.

The county council cabinet agreed on Monday that it would ask Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to extend the decision-making period until December 20 to allow for additional work to be carried out on the planning and other issues resulting from the application from Helioslough to develop it as a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI).

The former airfield in Park Street is owned by the county council which has to decide whether or not to sell it to Helioslough.

It now looks as though the cabinet will reconsider the matter at a meeting on December 9. Mr Pickles has already said that despite two previous rejections, he is now “minded” to approve the rail freight proposal subject to planning agreements.

In the meantime, more opposition to the SRFI scheme has come from neighbouring MP Mike Penning, who represents Hemel Hempstead.

He has written to Mr Pickles, outlining his concerns after discussions with local hauliers.

Mr Penning said: “Following recent meetings with local hauliers I am increasingly concerned about the impact that this huge development would have on our local area.

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“The concentration of such a massive freight infrastructure in one place would attract the larger players in the industry to that location and detract from our existing local haulage companies, which would be detrimental to both their business operations and our position as a strategic location for the haulage industry.”

He pointed out that Hemel Hempstead had “done a lot of work locally to recover from the Buncefield disaster” and it would be another major setback if the Radlett Airfield proposals were to get the go ahead.

He added: “I also have real concerns about the impact this development would have on the traffic in the area, particularly the M1 and M25 but also on our major trunk road system locally.

“The development proposals have been repeatedly rejected only to reappear under another guise.”

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