Petition calling for Radlett freight depot to be reassessed according to Colnbrook SIFE criteria rejected
An online petition calling for the Radlett freight depot to be reassessed according to “the same criteria” used to dismiss the appeal into SIFE in Colnbrook, has been rejected by a parliamentary committee.
Campaigner Andy Love – who, for many years, opposed the strategic rail freight interchange set to be built on the former Radlett Airfield – set up a parliamentary petition on 26th July calling for a rethink on the 2014 decision that gave planning approval.
His action followed news that former Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Greg Clark refused permission for the smaller SIFE development at Colnbrook on 13th July.
Clark ruled that the proposal from Goodman Logistics Development (UK) to build a Slough International Freight Exchange at Colnbrook would be “inappropriate development and harmful to the Green Belt”. He did not accept that “very special circumstances” existed to allow the development to move forward.
Why did Eric Pickles change his mind and why did he not allow a conjoined enquiry with Colnbrook?
Mr Love, in his petition, says he wants the same criteria now to be applied to the Radlett decision:
“In light of Greg Clark’s decision in July 2016 to dismiss an appeal to build a International Freight Exchange on green belt in Colnbrook, Slough, we are asking for the criteria used for this decision to be used to overturn the St Albans’ Strategic Rail Freight Interchange approval in 2014.
“After the SOS twice refused planning permission for a SRFI development on 300 acres of green belt in St Albans, Hertfordshire, Eric Pickles changed his mind and approved it in July 2014. Greg Clark in turning down the Colnbrook development concluded “that the benefits of the scheme do not clearly overcome the harm. Consequently very special circumstances do not exist to justify the development.” Why did Eric Pickles change his mind and why did he not allow a conjoined enquiry with Colnbrook?”.
On the face of it the two SRFI proposals were very similar, albeit Radlett bigger. Both would see open countryside lost, although both sites are former landfill. Any question that the two sites were in competition with each other has been ruled out by the Secretary of State confirming that a network of SRFIs around London is desirable. So why did Mr Clark refuse Colnbrook SIFE while Mr Pickles approved Radlett and were the decisions inconsistent?
Mr Love has pointed out to the Herts Advertiser that Mr Pickles twice decided not to give the SRFI planning permission prior to approving the scheme and questions why he changed his mind over allowing conjoined public inquiry with Colnbrook after briefly flirting with the idea in 2010.
However the committee that reviews petitions on the Parliament.uk website has rejected it, on the basis that it is “not clear what the petition is asking the UK Government or Parliament to do”. It has told Mr Love that if he wants new Secretary of State Sajid Javid to reconsider or review the decision taken in 2014 about the SRFI in St Albans, he should start a new petition asking for that to happen.
Meanwhile St Albans MP Anne Main is already pushing Mr Javid to reconsider his predecessors’ decision. The MP has repeatedly called for a freight depot to be built, instead, at Colnbrook. Or Upper Sundon near Luton.
The fight against the Radlett freight depot has now entered its tenth year and its fortunes have been tied with Colnbrook (through SIFE and its predecessor LIFE) for most of that time.