Monday, October 24, 2011

Controversy Over Intermodal Freight Terminals Continues

Radlett Enquiry Should Not Reopen Say Council
Shipping News Feature

UK – Once again the controversy which inevitably surrounds logistics developments, particularly intermodal terminals, is back in the news. The development of the old Radlett aerodrome in Hertfordshire as a strategic rail freight interchange was dismissed by Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, as we reported in July but swiftly followed by an appeal in the High Court by developers HelioSlough.

Now St Albans City & District Council has published the representations it made to the Secretary of State last week clarifying its objections to a development on Green Belt land and detailing its continuing objections in the light of further developments, specifically that despite proposed developments to the Great Western Main Line (GWML) and West Coast Main Line (WCML) there are no proposals to increase capacity on the Midland Main Line (MML).

This effectively means, according to the Council, that access to the Midland line will not be possible during the day which means a site proposed at Colnbrook, which already has direct rail access, is preferable to Radlett. Full details of the Council’s objections can be seen HERE but with access for 9’6” shipping containers seen by many industry experts as essential to rail freight development in the UK, the case for an alternative site where such traffic is possible seems a strong one.

The London and South East Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) undertaken this year by Network Rail concludes that gauge restraints, and the cost of resolving them, limit the viability of the Midland route. Cargo travelling to and from the two ports closest to the area, Felixstowe and London Gateway, is likely to travel either cross country via Bury St Edmunds, or via London, using the Great Eastern Main Line, North London Line joining the WCML at Camden Junction in the case of the former, and via the Gospel Oak-Barking Line joining the WCML at Willesden for the new London port development traffic.

Cllr Teresa Heritage, Portfolio Holder for Planning and Conservation at St Albans City & District Council commented on the Council’s latest move saying:

“After the decision by the High Court to quash the Secretary of State’s decision not to grant planning permission, we said that we would be proactive in making our submissions and that is what we have done here. We have provided a full and detailed response to the questions raised by the Secretary of State in his letter dated 15 September.

“We have made legal submissions regarding the conditions and a Section 106 Undertaking put forward by Helioslough. We have also identified a number of changes in the circumstances which have occurred since the close of the Public Inquiry in relation to rail freight and policy issues. The reports submitted by our experts indicate that an alternative rail freight site at Colnbrook near Slough should be preferred over the Park Street (Radlett) site.”

Opposition groups are firmly entrenched with local interest group STRiFE (Stop the Rail Freight Interchange) still against any Green Belt encroachment whilst local Lib Dem MP’s are calling for the enquiry to be reopened due to the changed circumstances and the proposed developments of SRFI’s at Colnbrook (by Goodman Logistics) and Sundon (Luton) by ProLogis which have prompt cries of NIMBYism from local groups in those areas.

Photo:- Artists impression of the developed Radlett site.