Railfreight: 'terrible day' for St Albans as Government grants planning permission for terminal (From Watford Observer)
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Railfreight: 'terrible day' for St Albans as Government grants planning permission for terminal
The Government’s decision to grant permission for a rail freight terminal near Park Street has been described as an "insult" to the 10,000 people who campaigned against the controversial development.
Today the Department for Communities and Local Government said the need for a 300 acre terminal on Green Belt land outweighed the harm to the landscape.
This decision by Planning Minister Nick Boles takes the huge development one step further. However Hertfordshire County Council, which owns the land, will make the final decision on Helioslough's proposals.
Labour Councillor Jacob Quagliozzi said the decision was a "hammer blow" to London Colney and surrounding villages as well as the rest of St Albans.
The London Colney councillor said: "It is an insult to the more than 10,000 people who have signed the anti-railfreight petition and the many more who have campaigned against this proposal over the past few years.
"I expect the leaders of the main parties on the district council to convene a meeting as soon as is possible to discuss what options are available to the council to challenge the decision. But there can be no dressing this up, this is a terrible day for St Albans."
Stop the Rail Freight Exchange (STRIFE) have been campaigning for the past eight years to protect the Green Belt site.
STRIFE campaigner Cathy Bolshaw said: "I am gutted. I can’t believe it has come to this after eight years of campaigning.
"Morally this is the wrong decision. We have spoken with our legal advisors about a judicial review because this is really the only other legal course of action we can take.
"The decision is now back in the hands of Hertfordshire County Council."
Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Councillor Sandy Walkington said it was "the biggest act of vandalism to ever hit St Albans".
He continued: "Having joined with STRiFE, with all the other political parties and so many local residents in giving evidence at the inquiries and supporting the other campaigning efforts, I now feel completely let down by the Secretary of State's decision.
"It will destroy the setting of the medieval city and abbey. The impact on the residents of Park Street is incalculable. And if our already congested road network and commuter rail services buckle under the strain, there will be huge wider implications for St Albans.
"It's a political decision, that this is the only viable location for a lorry terminal and that the country's need for an extra terminal outweighs all other considerations. In theory the decision can be challenged in the High Court but it will take time to work out whether there are any vulnerabilities in the Secretary of State's decision. In the meantime we must all rue this day."
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