Railfreight: the 'biggest act of vandalism'

Railfreight: the 'biggest act of vandalism to ever hit St Albans'

Railfreight: the 'biggest act of vandalism to ever hit St Albans'

First published in News
Last updated
Watford Observer: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

Controversial rail freight plans have been given the Government go ahead despite a 10,000-strong campaign to stop the “biggest act of vandalism to ever hit St Albans”.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles said the need for a 300-acre terminal on Green Belt land in Park Street outweighed “the harm to the landscape”.

This decision takes the development on the former Radlett aerodrome one step further. However Hertfordshire County Council, which owns the land, will make the final decision.

Also read: chairman of London Colney Parish Council calling on St Albans District Council to initiate judicial review of Government's decision...

Mr Pickles agreed with recommendations from Network Rail, as both the owner and operator of the infrastructure, that developers Helioslough could establish sufficient paths to enable access to serve the Strategic Rail Freight Interchange during interpeak hours and overnight.

Labour Councillor Jacob Quagliozzi said the decision was a “hammer blow” to London Colney and surrounding villages.

He said: “It is an insult to more than 10,000 people who signed the anti-railfreight petition and the many more who have campaigned against this.

“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.”

The decision notice also says that in the Government’s view no other site would be suitable and all Section 106 planning obligations have been agreed.

Mr Pickles said a junction at Radlett capable of a 45 mile per hour operation could be established and he was satisfied that the proposal “would not lead to the merging of neighbouring towns”.

The decision has come as a blow to Stop the Rail Freight Exchange (STRIFE) which has fought for eight years to protect the Green Belt site, which was estimated at a value of £1.7million, and would be “ten times that” if sold to the rail freight scheme.

STRIFE’s 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.

Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Councillor Sandy Walkington said it was “the biggest act of vandalism to ever hit St Albans”.

He continued: “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. “

Labour parliamentary candidate Kerry Pollard said he felt “let down” by  Mr Pickles and St Albans MP Anne Main.

He said: “The local Liberal Democrats and Tory run councils have been negligent over the years in not having a District Plan in place, which both the Inspector and Secretary of State commented on.

“County are obliged to get ‘best value’ when selling a publicly owned asset, selling this land for a Rail Freight terminal will not achieve that; a much better option would be to sell the land for housing, much needed homes and a better financial return.”  

When asked for a response to Mr Pollard’s comments Mrs Main’s office directed the St Albans & Harpenden Review to a written statement she released when the decision was made. It read:

“This has been a very long battle, and I am gutted about the Minister’s decision to grant planning permission, it’s a slap in the face for residents – although I can’t say I’m surprised, after all we did previously have a ‘minded to grant’ decision.”

Following the decision, Councillor Derrick Ashley said the county council would now “take a view on the disposal of its own land”. He continued although “factors weighing in favour of the development do not outweigh the harm it will cause” county council will now take into account the alternative uses and purposes of the land and how it will fulfil its “financial responsibility as owners of public assets”.

Comments (5)

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10:32am Thu 17 Jul 14

shalvey says...

GET ON AND BUILD IT ASAP!
BRINGS EMPLOYMENT AND PROSPERITY TO THE AREA!
WHILE YOU'RE AT IT. INVEST IN UPGRADING THE ST ALBANS ABBEY RAIL LINE AS WELL!
GET ON AND BUILD IT ASAP! BRINGS EMPLOYMENT AND PROSPERITY TO THE AREA! WHILE YOU'RE AT IT. INVEST IN UPGRADING THE ST ALBANS ABBEY RAIL LINE AS WELL! shalvey
  • Score: -8

12:25pm Thu 17 Jul 14

Gary_B says...

You obviously don't live near it. If you did, you'd know the roads simply won't be able to handle the traffic. The employment will be from outside the area.
You obviously don't live near it. If you did, you'd know the roads simply won't be able to handle the traffic. The employment will be from outside the area. Gary_B
  • Score: 11

3:16pm Thu 17 Jul 14

Andrew Turpie says...

shalvey wrote:
GET ON AND BUILD IT ASAP!
BRINGS EMPLOYMENT AND PROSPERITY TO THE AREA!
WHILE YOU'RE AT IT. INVEST IN UPGRADING THE ST ALBANS ABBEY RAIL LINE AS WELL!
Shalvey,

Minimum pay and zero hours contracts DO NOT bring prosperity to an area, all it does is rinse the treasury in top up benefits for low earners. Well, the top one percent of the country's earners will be the only beneficiaries.

Unemployment is falling but health and education services are diminishing - go figure. "McJobs" are no good for the economy.
Ditto with the jobs for the Wealth Campus too.

Just wish the masses would wake up and see this.

Might need to sort out that sticky caps lock key too my friend :-)
[quote][p][bold]shalvey[/bold] wrote: GET ON AND BUILD IT ASAP! BRINGS EMPLOYMENT AND PROSPERITY TO THE AREA! WHILE YOU'RE AT IT. INVEST IN UPGRADING THE ST ALBANS ABBEY RAIL LINE AS WELL![/p][/quote]Shalvey, Minimum pay and zero hours contracts DO NOT bring prosperity to an area, all it does is rinse the treasury in top up benefits for low earners. Well, the top one percent of the country's earners will be the only beneficiaries. Unemployment is falling but health and education services are diminishing - go figure. "McJobs" are no good for the economy. Ditto with the jobs for the Wealth Campus too. Just wish the masses would wake up and see this. Might need to sort out that sticky caps lock key too my friend :-) Andrew Turpie
  • Score: 1

10:16am Fri 18 Jul 14

garston tony says...

When this site was an airfield (within my and many other peoples life time) I believe that several thousand people where employed there by Handley Page building aircraft including up until its later years heavy jet bombers which used to take off and land regularly.

This site has in effect been an industrialised zone for far longer than most of the complainers have been alive and/or living anywhere near it. The site had several thousand people going to it daily on a regular basis for decades and coped, and surely a rail freight centre is going to be far less noisy to the neighbourhood than Victor bombers (not the quietest of things by any means) taking off, flying around and landing throughout the day and night.

I don’t see this anything other than nimby-ism with probably a lot of the anti group being scare mongered into thinking that it will be worse than it actually will be.

As to the MP’s claim that it is destroying St Albans medieval setting what utter tosh and I refer to my comment about scaremongering above. And maybe Kelly Pollard should ponder on the fact that ‘best value’ doesn’t necessarily mean getting the most money for the land, thousands of people getting off benefits and earning and paying tax is a huge benefit. His comments about building houses is also at odds with the concern over the roads not being able to cope with traffic, surely building homes on the land would lead to the same if not worse issues?
When this site was an airfield (within my and many other peoples life time) I believe that several thousand people where employed there by Handley Page building aircraft including up until its later years heavy jet bombers which used to take off and land regularly. This site has in effect been an industrialised zone for far longer than most of the complainers have been alive and/or living anywhere near it. The site had several thousand people going to it daily on a regular basis for decades and coped, and surely a rail freight centre is going to be far less noisy to the neighbourhood than Victor bombers (not the quietest of things by any means) taking off, flying around and landing throughout the day and night. I don’t see this anything other than nimby-ism with probably a lot of the anti group being scare mongered into thinking that it will be worse than it actually will be. As to the MP’s claim that it is destroying St Albans medieval setting what utter tosh and I refer to my comment about scaremongering above. And maybe Kelly Pollard should ponder on the fact that ‘best value’ doesn’t necessarily mean getting the most money for the land, thousands of people getting off benefits and earning and paying tax is a huge benefit. His comments about building houses is also at odds with the concern over the roads not being able to cope with traffic, surely building homes on the land would lead to the same if not worse issues? garston tony
  • Score: -2

6:30pm Fri 18 Jul 14

st albans resident says...

garston tony wrote:
When this site was an airfield (within my and many other peoples life time) I believe that several thousand people where employed there by Handley Page building aircraft including up until its later years heavy jet bombers which used to take off and land regularly.

This site has in effect been an industrialised zone for far longer than most of the complainers have been alive and/or living anywhere near it. The site had several thousand people going to it daily on a regular basis for decades and coped, and surely a rail freight centre is going to be far less noisy to the neighbourhood than Victor bombers (not the quietest of things by any means) taking off, flying around and landing throughout the day and night.

I don’t see this anything other than nimby-ism with probably a lot of the anti group being scare mongered into thinking that it will be worse than it actually will be.

As to the MP’s claim that it is destroying St Albans medieval setting what utter tosh and I refer to my comment about scaremongering above. And maybe Kelly Pollard should ponder on the fact that ‘best value’ doesn’t necessarily mean getting the most money for the land, thousands of people getting off benefits and earning and paying tax is a huge benefit. His comments about building houses is also at odds with the concern over the roads not being able to cope with traffic, surely building homes on the land would lead to the same if not worse issues?
According to Wikipedia Handley Page ceased to exist in 1970. Lets give it 10 years to finally go out of business and use 1960 as a fair comparison. Now lets look at that, that’s over 50 YEARS ago.

Over 50 years ago the site may have had “several thousand people working there”. However in 1961 there were estimated to be 10 million cars on the road, now its 34.2 million so the extra demands on the roads are apparent without the terminal.

As for being an industrialised zone, really? If its not been used for over 50 years then I’d argue the zone should no longer be classified as an industrial zone and left as open space.

The campaign against the terminal is not nimby-ism. It is the a desire to keep quality of life in the ever increasingly busy St Albans and surrounding area.
[quote][p][bold]garston tony[/bold] wrote: When this site was an airfield (within my and many other peoples life time) I believe that several thousand people where employed there by Handley Page building aircraft including up until its later years heavy jet bombers which used to take off and land regularly. This site has in effect been an industrialised zone for far longer than most of the complainers have been alive and/or living anywhere near it. The site had several thousand people going to it daily on a regular basis for decades and coped, and surely a rail freight centre is going to be far less noisy to the neighbourhood than Victor bombers (not the quietest of things by any means) taking off, flying around and landing throughout the day and night. I don’t see this anything other than nimby-ism with probably a lot of the anti group being scare mongered into thinking that it will be worse than it actually will be. As to the MP’s claim that it is destroying St Albans medieval setting what utter tosh and I refer to my comment about scaremongering above. And maybe Kelly Pollard should ponder on the fact that ‘best value’ doesn’t necessarily mean getting the most money for the land, thousands of people getting off benefits and earning and paying tax is a huge benefit. His comments about building houses is also at odds with the concern over the roads not being able to cope with traffic, surely building homes on the land would lead to the same if not worse issues?[/p][/quote]According to Wikipedia Handley Page ceased to exist in 1970. Lets give it 10 years to finally go out of business and use 1960 as a fair comparison. Now lets look at that, that’s over 50 YEARS ago. Over 50 years ago the site may have had “several thousand people working there”. However in 1961 there were estimated to be 10 million cars on the road, now its 34.2 million so the extra demands on the roads are apparent without the terminal. As for being an industrialised zone, really? If its not been used for over 50 years then I’d argue the zone should no longer be classified as an industrial zone and left as open space. The campaign against the terminal is not nimby-ism. It is the a desire to keep quality of life in the ever increasingly busy St Albans and surrounding area. st albans resident
  • Score: 2

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