Rail-freight action groups set to fight
CAMPAIGNERS who fought the proposals to build a giant rail freight depot on Green Belt land in Park Street have been regrouping following the announcement that another application is imminent. Developers Helioslough lost their first bid to build the depot
CAMPAIGNERS who fought the proposals to build a giant rail freight depot on Green Belt land in Park Street have been regrouping following the announcement that another application is imminent.
Developers Helioslough lost their first bid to build the depot on the former Radlett Airfield site after a lengthily planning inquiry but last week, within seven weeks of the decision, they announced that a new application would be with the district council in the New Year.
While the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, refused Helioslough's appeal, she did so on one major ground - that the developers had done insufficient work proving that there were no alternative suitable sites to serve London and the South East.
Helioslough have said the ruling gave them confidence that the application would be passed if they did more work on the alternative sites assessments.
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But campaign group STRiFE (Stop The Rail Freight Exchange) and MP for St Albans Anne Main are already busy investigating how to fight the proposal again.
Mrs Main said: "We have got to keep up the momentum and assure people that this is not a done deal."
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She said they already had a number of things up their sleeves and emphasised that they believed there were other more favourable sites.
Campaigners had been hoping that an application for a rail freight site would be submitted for Sundon Quarry in South Beds by developers ProLogis - but it emerged last week that the plans had been put on ice due to the financial climate.
Mrs Main emphasised that a planning application did not need to have been submitted for another site to be proved more suitable than Park Street.
Speaking about a fresh application, she said: "We will be absolutely scrutinising with a microscope everything they put in as we know that not everything they put forward before was fact - it was fiction."
Mrs Main also told Hazel Blears in Parliament this week that, while she was pleased with her decision on the original Helioslough application, she was disappointed that the subsequent report was interpreted by the developer as a green light to submit another application.
But the Minister replied that if commercial operators wanted to bring forward applications, it was not within her power to prevent them from doing so.
She added: "It is a matter for the market to determine whether such applications are made.