Campaign group STRiFE has vowed to continue fighting after the Government’s decision to go-ahead with the rail freight interchange on the Radlett Aerodrome site. They are seeking to persuade Hertfordshire County Council to block the development under the terms stipulated in Eric Pickles’ decision before Christmas.
Cllr Dexter Smith has said the decision not to re-open the Radlett Inquiry and combine it with the SIFE Inquiry “is good news on two counts”. first, that Colnbrook people will not be asked to go to Inquiry sessions miles away, and second that the strategic importance of our Green Belt has been recognised.
Local newspapers and other media outlets have carried further reaction to Eric Pickles shock decision on the Radlett freight terminal yesterday.
Cllr James Walsh has been quick to welcome the Secretary of State’s ruling on Radlett, saying: “we should all take heart from this result and a very important message has been given about the value of our greenbelt in Colnbrook … This will give us a strong hand when the SIFE appeal is heard next year.”
The Radlett rail freight depot has been given the go-ahead today in a shock move by Minister Eric Pickles, in what will no doubt be a devastating Christmas present to the campaigners there.
St Albans MP Anne Main, who has fought against the scheme, said:
“I am devastated on behalf of constituents who fought long and hard against this mindless act of vandalism. When the Minister discussed this with me I made it clear how angry I was and I find the decision incomprehensible.”
Coming just a week after he rejected a “conjoined” public inquiry with Colnbrook, Pickles’ move has surprised everybody after a six and a half year fight and two previous public inquiries.
The impact on the Colnbrook SIFE development is far from clear. A conjoined Inquiry would have indicated only one of the two schemes would be given the go-ahead. However, road to rail proponents have long called for a network of at least 4 Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges (SRFIs) around London.
News of Eric Pickles’ decision not to hold a “conjoined” public inquiry for the rival SIFE and Radlett proposals has not gone down well with Hertsmere MP James Clappison. He said this week the case against the Radlett rail freight interchange is “overwhelming” and it would be “undesirable” for Mr Pickles to give the go-ahead without a public inquiry.
St Albans Council has welcomed Eric Pickle’s proposal to reopen the Public Inquiry into the Radlett SRFI, claiming that a new Inquiry conjoined with that for SIFE would allow the Council to demonstrate that “the Colnbrook proposal would cause less harm to the Green Belt”.
The stopSIFE campaign today launches an e-petition on the Government website with a plea to all residents to sign. Under the revised scheme set up in July 2011 if an e-petition gets at least 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in the House of Commons.
The Planning Inspectorate has today overturned its previous advice and confirmed that October’s Inquiry into the SIFE development WILL be delayed until after a decision on rival site Radlett, giving the clearest indication yet that the Government will ultimately decide on one or other of the two rival sites.
The Inspector presiding over the Public Inquiry into the Slough International Freight Exchange has denied Goodman’s request for postponement.
As first revealed on these pages the planning inquiry into controversial plans for a freight exchange in Colnbrook could be derailed before it’s started.