St Albans council supporting judicial review over Radlett rail freight terminal

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rail freight logo - Credit: Archant

FULL support from all sides has greeted St Albans council’s confirmation that it is to apply for a Judicial Review over the proposed redevelopment of Radlett Airfield as a major rail freight depot.

The council is seeking to quash the decision by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, in December not to reopen the Park Street inquiry and conjoin it with a similar appeal in Colnbrook, Slough.

Only a week after the council was notified of Mr Pickles’ decision about the conjoined inquiry, he ruled that he was “minded to approve” planning permission for Helioslough to build a massive Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) on Radlett Airfield subject to planning agreements – overturning two previous decisions at appeal to turn it down.

The council has served proceedings against Mr Pickles and various parties with an interest in the claim including Helioslough, Goodman Logistics Development (UK), the company behind the proposed Colnbrook development and Slough Borough Council.

Its stance has been that that the Secretary of State’s view that he sees, “little reason to conclude that Colnbrook would meet the needs for an SFRI in a less harmful way” than that on the Green Belt Radlett Airfield as contrary to his earlier positions in 2010 and 2012.

The council contends it that Mr Pickles’ assessment of the Colnbrook site is inconsistent with his reasoning in July 2010 when he refused permission for the SRFI in Park Street and his subsequent conduct.

Support for the council’s action has come from the action group STRiFE (Stop the Rail Freight Interchange) which had received similar advice from its legal team and from St Albans MP Anne Main.

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She said: “I am fully supportive of the Council’s move to apply for a judicial review into the Secretary of State’s decision not to conjoin the Radlett and Colnbrook inquiries.

“I am still shocked by the Secretary of State’s decision not to conjoin these inquiries as are the residents of St Albans.

“A conjoined inquiry is necessary to give my constituents the explanation they deserve for any decision.”

Mrs Main added: “I believe that a renewed conjoined inquiry will allow us to raise many issues that have never been addressed, such as a proper alternative sites assessment, and I pay tribute to the council for their firm stance.”

Local Lib Dems have also welcomed the legal challenge which follows the success of St Stephen county councillor Aislinn Lee in negotiating an all-party agreement last week that the county council would not enter into negotiations with Helioslough over an “enabling” planning agreement or the sale of Radlett Airfield, which it owns, until all legal avenues to prevent the scheme have been exhausted.

Cllr Lee said: “I am delighted that the district council have agreed to mount this challenge. It shows a determination from all sides, at both district and county level, to fight this monstrous threat to the very end.”