Tuesday, July 13, 2010

St Albans Multi Modal Rail Terminal Enquiry Saga Continues

Possible Judicial Review into Governments Decision
Shipping News Feature

UK – The row over development of a three and a half million square metre intermodal rail terminal on the site of Radlett Airfield (Handley Page Aerodrome) in Hertfordshire continues unabated. A press statement promised for lunchtime yesterday by property developers Helioslough was not forthcoming presumably whilst the company decides its next move as they consider requesting a judicial review.

Last week the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles overturned the decision of the planning inspectorate after Helioslough took the district council to a public enquiry for the second time. Both parties exited the enquiry bloodied but unbowed as the developers pointed out that their arguments had been ‘97% accepted’ by the enquiry in a statement to the Handy Shipping Guide. The council were also found liable for some costs, in addition to the hundreds of thousands of pounds the case has reportedly already cost them, because they had continued putting forward arguments already ruled against by the first enquiry.

For their part the council, and members of STRiFE (Stop The Rail Freight Exchange) although jubilant at the ministers decision, were disappointed that their case had not been completely accepted. The coalition Government is beginning to understand the tightrope it walks when trying to satisfy all interests. This case is a classic example of one policy suffering conflicting arguments from differing standpoints. On the one hand the UK is committed to reduce pollution by transferring goods to rail freight as opposed to carriage by truck wherever possible but also the preservation of Green Belt areas is paramount to many.

Mr Pickles ruled that the rail development would impinge on the ecology of the area and adversely affect the countryside but, in an atmosphere where employment is increasingly a worry for many one can expect the arguments to rage unabated for this and other similar developments. Today council leader Robert Donald has promised to defend Green Belt land in the St Albans area in the light of the decision. 

In other freight terminal development news EDF Energy have now published plans for their freight and logistics facilities to cover potential development of their nuclear reactor Hinckley Point C. Plans for developing intermodal terminals at Williton and Cannington have been abandoned but they propose depots adjacent to the M5 motorway at junctions 23 and 34 plus Combwich Wharf on the Bristol Channel.

Full details can be downloaded HERE by following the links to the Masterplan for freight and logistics facilities.

Photo:- Old Control Tower Radlett Aerodrome