Beds, Herts & Bucks

Thousands sign St Albans rail freight terminal petition

Thousands of Hertfordshire residents have asked the county council not to sell a former aerodrome near St Albans to build a rail freight terminal.

Almost 6,000 have signed a Stop the Rail Freight Exchange (STRiFE) group petition, asking the authority to keep Radlett Airfield in Park Street from developers HelioSlough.

If it reaches 10,000 signatures, the issue will be debated by the council.

The plan for the depot received government approval in December.

Cathy Bolshaw, of STRiFE, said keeping the "vital piece" of Park Street land in public ownership was important because it was "crucial" to the development.

"Helioslough own the middle bit of the land, so they would have to have all of it to develop it in the way they are proposing," she said.

"Selling [green-belt land] is like selling the family silver.

"We hope to put enough pressure on the councillors to make them think long and hard about selling it."

Hertfordshire County Council acknowledged the petition had been set up and said the usual petition procedure would now be followed to decide the best method for response.

Planning permission for the rail freight terminal was originally refused by St Albans council in 2009.

Developer HelioSlough Ltd said its plans followed government policies to transport goods by rail and the terminal was needed to serve south-east England.

Following two appeals, communities secretary Eric Pickles backed the development, subject to agreement of developers' financial contributions.

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