Petition on St Albans rail freight fight is changed

Put the Brakes on Freight - Herts Advertiser campaign

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

The wording of a parliamentary petition urging the government to reconsider a decision to grant planning permission for a massive rail freight terminal in St Albans has had to be changed.

The initiative has been taken by campaigner Andy Love after St Albans MP Anne Main challenged new Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid over a decision by his predecessor Greg Clark to reject a similar scheme at Colnbrook.

Mr Clark ruled that a the Slough International Freight Exchange at Colnbrook would be inappropriate and harmful in the Green Belt and did not amount to the very special circumstances which would warrant allowing it to be built.

By contrast in July 2014 the then Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, announced that a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) could be built on the former Radlett Airfield in Park Street even though the site is in the Green Belt.

He took the view that that the strategic benefits of the scheme outweighed the harm to the Green Belt - the polar opposite to the decision on Colnbrook taken by Mr Clark.

The wording of Mr Love’s parliamentary petition has had to be changed under regulations ruling such lobbying. It now calls simply for reconsideration of Mr Pickles’ decision in 2014 to approve an SRFI in St Albans.

He said this week that starting government petitions was not easy because they only allowed a limited number of characters but his rewording had been acceptable.