SIFE: has our six year struggle finally reached the end?

A stopSIFE campaign was formed exactly one month to the day of the original planning application, and the fight against the imposition of SIFE has been on for just under six years.  Could this, finally, be the end of the struggle?

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Speculator Goodman was informed of the Secretary of State’s decision yesterday via its agent Barton Willmore.  The company has invested millions into its Colnbrook project and will clearly be disappointed in today’s news.  However, it has been in it for the long game, incorporating a dedicated subsidiary well over two years before its initial application.  Is it likely to concede defeat now?

The Government’s decision can be challenged in the Courts, and the company could call for a Judicial Review if it considers there to be grounds.

However, even then, it may not be successful in reversing the decision:

“The Secretary of State cannot amend or interpret the decision. It may be redetermined by the Secretary of State only if the decision is quashed by the Courts. However, if it is redetermined, it does not necessarily follow that the original decision will be reversed”.

The Secretary of State’s decision may be challenged by making an application to the High Court within six weeks from yesterday to bring a statutory review under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

“Any person aggrieved by the decision may question the validity of the decision on the grounds that it is not within the powers of the Act or that any of the relevant requirements have not been complied with in relation to the decision. An application for leave under this section must be made within six weeks from the day after the date of the decision”.

A copy of the minister’s decision letter has also been sent to St Albans City and District Council who will no doubt be keenly following developments here.

The massive freight interchange being promoted by Goodman Plc – actually, three separate warehouses each three times the size of Terminal 5 – was first applied for in 2010.  It was unaminously rejected by Slough’s Planning Committee on 8th September 2011 for its “inappropriate location” and impact on Brands Hill air quality.

The company, listed on the Australian stock exchange, purchased the biggest part of the 183 acre site north of the Colnbrook By-pass for just over £17 million in 2009 – through its offshore registered subsidiary Goodman Colnbrook (Jersey) Ltd.  The purchase of other parts of the site are understood to have taken the total investment to well over £20 million.

Goodman Colnbrook (Jersey) was actually set up on 6th March 2008.

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