Petition growing to fight Radlett rail freight decision
- Credit: Archant
THOUSANDS of residents have already signed a petition calling on the county council not to sell or lease Radlett Airfield to rail freight developers Helioslough.
It has been set up by action group STRiFE – Stop the Rail Freight Exchange – after Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles announced shortly before Christmas that he was minded to give the huge scheme the go ahead.
The county council owns the former Radlett Airfield in Park Street, which is in the Green Belt and on which Helioslough wants to build five massive warehouses and a major terminal.
Nearly 5,000 residents have signed the petition urging the county council to retain the land in public ownership. If it reaches 10,000 signatures, the petition will trigger a debate at County Hall and bring the whole issue into the open.
Cathy Bolshaw of STRiFE said: “Whilst STRiFE recognises that HCC has a responsibility as regards asset disposal, the Green Belt is an asset that we cannot afford to dispose of, regardless of temporary financial gain.
“Green Belt land can only be sold once, at which point it ceases to be Green Belt land and is lost forever, so please don’t sell the family silver. A line must be drawn now.”
To sign the petition go to https://consult.hertsdirect.org/petitions/petition?petition_id=74614.
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In the meantime St Albans MP Anne Main has fired off a number of parliamentary questions to both the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Department of Transport (DoT) about Mr Pickles’ announcement.
She has questioned whether there have been any further meetings between the DoT and representatives of Helioslough since last May’s revelations that the then Transport Minister Teresa Villiers had held a private meeting with Simon Hoare, lobbyist for the rail freight developers.
She has also questioned Mr Pickles’ department about what changed the Secretary of State’s mind between his letter of September 19 when he proposed the conjoining of inquiries into the Radlett Airfield and Colnbrook rail freight schemes and his subsequent letter on December 14 saying he was satisfied that he could decide the Radlett application alone “on the basis of evidence before him”.
Mrs Main goes on: “Does he share the sentiments expressed by his Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Planning) Nick Boles MP in his letter to John Hayes MP on December 20 regarding wind farms where he states that, “We should be working with communities rather than seemingly riding roughshod over their concerns.”
In addition, she is asking what assessment or evaluation was made of the “wider economic benefits” of the Radlett Rail Freight proposal.
n St Albans council, which has pledged to take any viable legal action to challenge Mr Pickles’ decision, confirmed this week that it is still waiting to hear the views of its legal experts about the issue.