St Albans rail freight fight - Helioslough confident of victory

PUBLISHED: 09:45 24 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:41 06 May 2010

HELIOSLOUGH front-man Simon Hoare says he is feeling confident in the run up to the second rail freight inquiry which kicks off today (Tuesday). According to him, objectors to the 3.5 million-sq-ft scheme have failed to come up with a feasible alternative

HELIOSLOUGH front-man Simon Hoare says he is feeling confident in the run up to the second rail freight inquiry which kicks off today (Tuesday).

According to him, objectors to the 3.5 million-sq-ft scheme have failed to come up with a feasible alternative site which could put a stop the plans for Green Belt land between Park Street and London Colney.

The lack of a convincing alternative sites report was the main reason why the first application for a rail freight depot at the Radlett Aerodrome was turned down in 2008.

The then Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Hazel Blears, agreed with the planning inspector that if Helioslough had proved it was the best site to serve London and the South East, it could have outweighed the harm to the Green Belt.

Speaking yesterday (Monday), Mr Hoare said: "We tore up the original report and started from scratch and nobody has come up with alternative site or a single material change to widen or deepen the scope to change that point of view.

"We are confident of our case and are committed to the proposal, and we are very hopeful having addressed that reason for refusal."

Mr Hoare welcomed the withdrawal of some of the district council's objections and Herts County Council's highways objections following the pre-inquiry hearing in which the inspector had been any material changes to justify doing so.

That, Mr Hoare said, allowed the sensible use of inquiry time and would avoid wasting even more of local taxpayers' money.

On the issue of rail paths, which objectors believe could scupper the plans should they manage to prove there isn't the capacity for freight trains on the Midland Mainline, Mr Hoare said: "Surely, if we thought there were no paths available, does anybody in all honesty think we would progress this application and go to the second appeal?"

Mr Hoare also confirmed that they had all the funding in place to complete the scheme should they get the go-ahead, but pointed out that a land deal would have to be struck with the county council and legal issues ironed out before building commenced.

For comprehensive coverage of the second rail freight inquiry which is expected to last 16 days, continue to visit this website.

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