Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rail Freight Protest Steps Up a Gear as Petition Signatures Near 8,000

Active Campaign Following Ministers U Turn
Shipping News Feature

UK – The ongoing protests against a new Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) continue as the number of people who have signed the petition appealing to the local council to prevent development going ahead climbs toward the 10,000 signatures required to prompt a council debate. The sale of a piece of council owned land is vital to enable the development to proceed.

At the time of writing almost 8,000 have signed the petition organised by the Stop the Rail Freight Exchange (STRiFE) group which has been objecting to the development of the old Radlett aerodrome site since plans by developer Helioslough were first mooted. The property, which is said to be key to the scheme, is owned by Hertfordshire County Council and is currently part of the Green Belt and the campaigners say it is essential to prevent the sale and therefore render the scheme impractical.

The case is particularly controversial as it saw the reversal of a decision by Secretary of State, Eric Pickles who, after initially saying the development would affect the ecology of the area adversely then, following two appeals, apparently changed his mind allowing the scheme to proceed. The Helioslough website has long been discontinued by the Segro property group (formerly Slough Estates) which is actually behind the scheme. The Helios Group is a Yorkshire based property development and investment company which has previously developed logistics parks incorporating intermodal rail links (e.g. SIRFT between Sheffield and Rotherham).

Meanwhile sixty miles to the North of Radlett the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT), backed by logistics development specialists Prologis and their partners, is proposing a scheme DIRFT lll which is intended to expand the existing facilities. The plans, which have their origins a decade ago, were refused in November 2012 by local planning authorities, but in a move reminiscent of the evolution of the Radlett development, new plans are proposed which attempt to resolve the matter.

To follow the history of the contentious issue of the Radlett scheme from the beginning simply type a suitable keyword (Pickles, Radlett etc) into the News Search box at the top of the page.