United and defiant in Radlett rail freight fight
HUNDREDS of protestors against the rail freight depot plan turned out on Saturday morning when pressure group STRiFE held a demonstration in St Albans city centre. The rally was addressed by St Albans MP Anne Main, LibDem prospective parliamentary candida
HUNDREDS of protestors against the rail freight depot plan turned out on Saturday morning when pressure group STRiFE held a demonstration in St Albans city centre.
The rally was addressed by St Albans MP Anne Main, LibDem prospective parliamentary candidate (ppc) Sandy Walkington, Labour ppc Roma Mills and Cathy Bolshaw of STRiFE - Stop the Rail Freight Exchange.
It was held just over a week before St Albans council's main planning committee meets at the Alban Arena to make a decision on the second application from Helioslough for a massive rail freight depot on the former Radlett Airfield in Park Street.
The new scheme, which is substantially the same as the first, includes 3.5 million sq ft of warehousing in five buildings - one larger than Terminal Five at Heathrow - together with associated road, rail and other infrastructure and parking for hundreds of cars and lorries.
Helioslough is also promising to build a Park Street relief road and provide a country park.
Hertsmere Borough Council was due to give its response to the application at a meeting last night and the St Albans council decision will be taken at 7pm on Monday night at the Arena.
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STRiFE was at the heart of the campaign against the first Helioslough application which was turned down on appeal. It is urging objectors to turn out in force for Monday's meeting so the council is left in no doubt about the strength of feeling over the issue.
A spokesperson for STRiFE said this week: "We won the first time and we can win again. Together we can get rid of Helioslough so come to the meeting and show your support for the cause. Apathy could destroy St Albans, determination can save it."
He added: "Goliath threatened but David won. Let's show Goliath that David is alive and well and lives in St Albans. He still has his sling and a good supply of pebbles."
n The fight against the Rail Freight Terminal went national this week when STRiFE campaign co-ordinator Cathy Bolshaw met the House of Commons Transport Select Committee chairman, Louise Ellman.
Cathy spent an hour pointing out the extent of the problems that building the terminal would cause for the whole of St Albans. She raised the issue of the workforce having to be recruited from outside St Albans, resulting in even more congested roads, as well as there being a more appropriate and viable alternative site only a few short miles further up the track.
Cathy added: "I told Louise Ellman that we were supportive of the principle of moving freight from road to rail but this needs to be assessed on a national basis as to where they are sited with specific criteria and methodology being applied to ensure that they would actually work and be viable to the end user."
STRiFE believes that a national body should be set up to take a strategic overview of the need and location of freight terminals.