St Albans railfreight fight back in High Court next week

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The long-running saga of a bid to build a massive railfreight depot in the St Albans district goes back to the High Court next week.

It follows last year’s decision by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to grant planning permission to developers Helioslough for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) on the former Radlett Airfield in Park Street.

St Albans council subsequently lodged an appeal to the High Court against the decision to allow the development to be built on the Green Belt site and it is due to be heard next Tuesday and Wednesday, February 3 and 4.

Action group STRiFE - Stop the Railfreight Exchange - will have their own barristers in the High Court supporting the council.

Members of STRiFE will also be there and they are urging as many people as possible to show their support but with a warning that space in the public gallery is limited.

STRiFE has pledged to carry on fighting as long as they can to protect what they describe as, ‘this last, large piece of Green Belt land between St Albans and London”.

Cathy Bolshaw, spokesperson for STRiFE, said they would like to thank everyone who has supported the action group financially recently, ‘as it has enabled us to guarantee that our barristers can attend the High Court on our behalf, on this occasion.’

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The council is challenging the Secretary of State’s ruling on three points of law - the legality of his approach in making his decision, interpretation of the National Planning Policy and procedural irregularity and inconsistency with particular reference to a recent decision to refuse permission for a waste incinerator on Green Belt land in Hatfield.

The council has spent £1.4 million to date on the seven-year fight against the SRFI and the current challenge is expected to cost around £100,000.