Shock go-ahead for Radlett rail freight depot

THE Radlett rail freight depot has been given the go-ahead in a shock move by Minister Eric Pickles.

St Albans MP Anne Main, who has fought against the scheme, said: “I am devastated on behalf of constituents who fought long and hard against this mindless act of vandalism. When the Minister discussed this with me I made it clear how angry I was and I find the decision incomprehensible. I cannot see what has changed since the previous refusals and I shall continue to explore the reasoning behind this change of direction. The Minister accepted that the decision would be met with much unhappiness in my constituency and I made it quite clear that this would blight many people’s lives in the area if it went ahead.

“After venting my anger I thought it best to discuss our position with James Clappison MP, Cllr Julian Daly leader of St Albans District Council and STRIFE. There are still legal avenues open to challenge this, and this may be a route people want to take. Consequently rather than say anything to prejudice any potential challenge to the decision, at the moment I am taking time to reflect on the judgement, regroup and see what is the best we can do for St Albans.

“Whatever the eventual outcome James and I intend to continue to explore how this decision has suddenly come about; there are many questions about the process. I think it is disgraceful sneaking out this decision just before Christmas. This is the worst kind of Christmas present my constituents could have received.”

Also commenting on the announcement Lib Dem spokesman Sandy Walkington said: “This is a terrible Christmas present for local residents. It’s going to mean misery for the people of Park Street, London Coney and the south of St Albans district.

“Commuters will suffer as rail services get disrupted by the works and the whole St Albans economy could suffer if gridlock is created on the main approach roads to the city.

“The timing is disgraceful and the Mr Pickles seems to pretend that he never raised the alternative Colnbrook site which cannot now be compared with Park Street.

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“This site, within view of St Albans Abbey and Verulamium with their importance in our island’s history, remains wholly inappropriate for this kind of massive industrial development. It’s a knife in the underbelly of our city.”

Cathy Bolshaw, spokesperson for campaign group STRiFE (Stop The Rail Freight Exchange), said: “This is a devastating position for St Albans, especially with everybody shut up so we cannot get legal advice for the best part of two weeks. It is a case of stabbing the knife in and then twisting it as well.”

For a full report on the decision and the consequences for the district, see next week’s Herts Ad.