St Albans MP argues against rail freight development in House of Commons

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper secured a debate in the Commons on the Radlett rail freight plans. Picture

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper secured a debate in the Commons on the Radlett rail freight plans. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper has taken her fight against the Park Street rail freight depot to the House of Commons.

Yesterday saw her argue in the Chamber how there were compelling reasons why the Government should scrap plans for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) on the site of the former Radlett Aerodrome.

She secured the Commons debate on the scheme after St Albans district council was “held hostage” and forced to abandon its own plans to build housing on the site.

She has vowed to fight the development “to the bitter end”.

Daisy told the House: “If it goes ahead, what this means is that 3.5 million square-metres of Green Belt – the size of 490 football pitches – will be converted into a massive rail and lorry park – with warehouses, lorries, container storage, HGV parking and so on. It will bring thousands of heavy goods vehicles per day, and bring huge disruption to the surrounding

roads and commuter rail links.

“A freight terminal in this location has always been a bad idea – but there are also new and compelling reasons why it should be reviewed and why the plans for the freight terminal should scrapped.”

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She pointed out that it is “just not possible” to include a massive rail interchange the size of 490 football pitches and meet the Government’s target to build more than 14,000 homes over the next 16 years in the St Albans area while also protecting the Green Belt.

Daisy also highlighted the disruption to rail commuters caused by the need to enlarge tunnels at Elstree and near Kentish Town, as well as the impact on roads and local village communities.

She called on the Government to justify the need for the Park Street SFRI in the light of the Government’s new post-Brexit freeports policy, with the announcement expected by the end of this year of up to 10 freeports to begin operations in 2021.

She askedfor details of any impact assessment carried out by the Government on the London Gateway container terminal, which has opened on the Thames since the Park Street depot was first proposed and has since led to plans for an SRFI site at Howbury Park, near Dartford, to be dropped.