St Albans council begins legal action over rail depot

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Council leaders have begun legal action against the government after it refused to look again at plans for a rail freight depot in Hertfordshire.

St Albans council has applied for judicial review of the communities secretary Eric Pickles' decision to approve the Radlett Airfield proposals.

It wants the inquiry into the plans reopened and looked at in conjunction with a similar scheme in Berkshire.

The government said it may not be able to comment on the action.

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, in September last year, Mr Pickles said he was considering looking at the plans for the Radlett development alongside an inquiry into a similar scheme at Colnbrook, near Slough.

He asked for the views of the council and other interested parties on the proposed approach, but on 14 December decided he could determine the Radlett proposal on its own, and backed the Hertfordshire development a week later.

'Flawed decision'

St Albans City and District Council said the government's approval for the green-belt land proposal had been "flawed" because it did not take into account an assessment of both sites.

In its grounds for the legal application against the secretary of state, the council contends that Mr Pickles "failed to give any or any adequate reasons for his decision and/or acted irrationally and/or failed to take into account material considerations".

The council wants the decision quashed and sent back to the secretary of state for a further decision as to whether the two proposals should be considered together.

A spokeswoman for HelioSlough said it was aware of the council's action but had no further comment to make.

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