Council considers Secretary of State’s interim decision on rail freight terminal to be ‘flawed’

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News release: 21 January 2013

St Albans City & District Council has responded to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government’s recent letters regarding the proposed Radlett rail freight terminal near Park Street.

The Secretary of State said, in his letter of 14 December, that he had decided after all not to re-open the inquiry into the Radlett strategic rail freight terminal (SFRI) and conjoin it with an inquiry into an alternative site at Colnbrook, Slough. 

In his letter of 20 December the Secretary of State said that he was “minded to approve” planning permission for the proposed interchange, subject to various conditions.

In its letters of 18 January, the Council has requested that the Secretary of State reconsider his decision not to re-open the Radlett inquiry and conjoin it with the Colnbrook inquiry.

The Council has also given notice of its intention to challenge the decision not to reopen and conjoin the inquiry through judicial review in the High Court if the Secretary of State does not meet the Council’s request.  The Council sets out its reasons in detail in its letters of 18 January.

The Council has requested a response from the Secretary of State within seven days.

The Council says that it considers the Secretary of State’s interim decision, outlined in his letter dated 20 December, in which he says he is ‘minded to approve’ planning permission for the Radlett SFRI, to be flawed.  It has requested that he reconsider this interim decision.

The Council maintains that the Secretary of State’s view that he sees “little reason to conclude that Colnbrook would meet the needs for an SFRI in a less harmful way” than that at Radlett, is contrary to his earlier positions in 2010 and 2012.

It believes that the interim decision fails to take into account the lack of any proper and adequate comparative assessment of the relative merits of the two sites.

The Council concludes that the Secretary of State’s assessment of the position regarding Colnbrook is entirely inconsistent with his reasoning in the original decision of July 2010 to refuse permission, and his subsequent conduct. 

The Council contends that the change of position stands wholly unexplained, indicating that it considers that the interim decision was reached either on an irrational basis or by taking into account immaterial considerations.

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Contact for the media:

Claire Wainwright, Principal Communications and Marketing Officer

St Albans City and District Council

Tel: 01727 819572