St Albans rail freight depot inquiry could be delayed

PUBLISHED: 20:00 23 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:27 06 May 2010

FRESH information has come to light which could reinforce the case for a delay in the public inquiry into a rail freight depot in Park Street. It follows the discovery that Network Rail has only just commenced a feasibility study on gauge clearance for th

FRESH information has come to light which could reinforce the case for a delay in the public inquiry into a rail freight depot in Park Street.

It follows the discovery that Network Rail has only just commenced a feasibility study on gauge clearance for the Midland Main Line with initial findings not expected until the end of the year.

The route would have to be "gauge cleared" to ensure that containers could be moved underneath the bridges and the tunnels on the route without which the rail freight depot would not be effective.

The information came in a response to St Albans MP Anne Main from Freightliner, a group dedicated to the movement of freight by rail.

It has prompted the pressure group STRiFE - Stop The Rail Freight Exchange - to point out to the Planning Inspectorate that unless it proves feasible to upgrade the Midland Main Line, the whole exercise of holding a public inquiry so soon would be pointless.

St Albans council turned down the second application from developers Helioslough to develop the former Radlett Airfield into a massive rail freight depot in July. A pre-inquiry meeting next month will decide the date of the public inquiry into the refusal which is currently scheduled for November 24.

In a letter urging the Planning Inspectorate to take on board Freightliner's comment to Mrs Main, STRiFE spokesperson Cathy Bolshaw, said that unless the "pathing" issue was resolved, the appeal would fail whatever evidence was introduced.

She pointed out that the Highways Agency was also unhappy with the timescales being imposed because of the shortage of time to evaluate the effect on the road network.

And she highlighted the cost of the previous public inquiry to St Albans council tax-payers when Helioslough had been "careless" about producing its alternative sites assessment and warned that the same thing could happen unless the basic requirements of pathing, feasibility and road congestion, were resolved.

St Albans council wants the inquiry to be held in January which STRiFE supports.

Blob* There is now less than a week to get letters opposing the Helioslough scheme to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, John Denham.

Three copies of each letter need to be send by the end of this month to the Secretary of State at The Planning Inspectorate, Room 4/04 Kite, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN, quoting the reference APP/B1930/A/09/2109433/NWF.

Objections can also be made through the appeals area of www.planningportal.gov.uk/pcs using the above reference.

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