Controversy remains over freight terminal plans near London

The planned conversion of a former strategic military air base into a strategic rail freight terminal seems to have passed the final hurdles to development. However, after decades of opposition, campaigners are still fighting the project, which they say will be less strategic for the rail freight industry and more of a blight on the English countryside.

Plans for the former Radlett Airfield near St Albans, north of London, have been on the drawing board of industrial development specialists SEGRO for over a decade. It’s taken that long to gain approval from the highest government office. However, the green light for green belt development has been nothing short of a red rag to the more bullish campaigners, who have vowed to fight on.

3,5 million square metres

Only a month ago, the plans for the former Royal Air Force facility at Radlett, in the middle of the Hertfordshire countryside, finally gained approval. That came despite a coalition of opposition from the local authorities, community campaigners and representations from the local member of parliament. However, some compromises on local development opportunities finally persuaded the UK government to give the go-ahead on the grounds of national strategic importance.

Rail freight terminals have been successfully integrated into the landscape elsewhere – such as iPort Doncaster, where road traffic is directed away from local communities and the emphasis is on rail distribution. image iPortRail

However, rail freight development on the vast 3.5 million square metres airfield site does not appeal to everyone. Local campaigners STRiFE (Stop The Rail Freight Exchange) still continue to resist. Local media reported this week that the campaigners have accepted that their fight now moves on to mitigating the effects on the designated Green Belt countryside.

Way now clear for developers

Campaigners are sceptical that the road traffic generated by the development will be limited to the extent claimed by the developers. “Sadly we do not believe the claim of no lorry to lorry transfers on site”, said their statement. “We know that only about 25 per cent was ever to be road to rail in the original plans. It’s very sad news for the whole area.”

Green-field developments always carry a huge burden of concern in the UK, especially in the heavily populated south east of England. With government approval through, and the removal of formal opposition, the way is now clear for developers SEGRO to acquire the land for the development. Whenever the provisionally named Park Street terminal may join the roster of rail freight facilities still remains some years in the future. Main image shoes the SEGRO Development at Northampton.

Author: Simon Walton

Simon Walton is RailFreight's UK correspondent.

1 comment op “Controversy remains over freight terminal plans near London”

bönström bönström|13.07.22|16:58

Yes, what is Goal of investments made, at infrastructure? (Is it simply “better”, or something diffuse?)
Any how, post Brexit, a new era calls for a new, a timely Goal.
A New Old Railway, a high quality, urgently is needed, etc. The two, by far safest and most energy effective devices, now need a common goal (singular)- safely providing for needed at Hemisphere, etc…

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