St Albans MP calls for ‘dreadful’ Rail Freight plan to be rescinded

St Albans MP Anne Main and Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden at a Rail Freight protest. Picture: Supplied

St Albans MP Anne Main and Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden at a Rail Freight protest. Picture: Supplied - Credit: Archant

St Albans MP Anne Main has called for planning permission for the proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) to be rescinded.

In a letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps, Mrs Main said the SRFI is "almost unanimously opposed" by her constituents, and described it as a "dreadful use of this land that will cause nothing but pollution and disruption to road and rail travellers".

Developers SEGRO, previously known as HelioSlough, were granted planning permission for the rail freight terminal by former communities secretary Eric Pickles in 2014. If it goes ahead, the terminal would be build on Green Belt land on the former Radlett Aerodrome site.

Mrs Main said: "I have pressed ministers for years about this site and we are still no clearer on how the SRFI could be workable.

"There is no clarity on tunnel upgrades, pathing for the trains and the inevitable impact this will have on commuter journeys on the line.

"Further, the site will have a major impact on our roads. The number of lorries that will be accessing the SRFI will add to the congestion my constituents regularly have to endure."

At the start of this year, Herts County Council offered the site up for housing as part of the draft St Albans district Local Plan, which Mrs Main described as "a far more desirable use of this land if it is to be taken out of the Green Belt".

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In her letter, Mrs Main asked Mr Shapps to rescind the SRFI planning application and to instead promote the site for housing.

After sending the letter, she said: "This has gone on far too long now. My constituents strongly oppose this dreadful plan and it is completely obvious that this site should be used for housing instead.

"The SRFI would be incredibly damaging to our environment, road and rail links and is another lost site for desperately needed housing."

Previously, Mrs Main and Hertsmere MP Oliver Dowden have both written to Network Rail opposing the SRFI.

Mrs Main said: "This new government has approached lots of issues with energy, enthusiasm and common sense, and has taken action when it is needed. I am now calling for them to do exactly that with the SRFI.

"I will be keeping up the pressure in Westminster to try to make sure this happens."