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No public inquiry into Park Street freight, Radlett ‘perverse and unreasonable’, says MP James Clappison
Plans to build a rail freight terminal would be ‘disastrous to the green belt’, according to a politician.
Hertsmere MP James Clappison spoke in Parliament against controversial proposals to build the new terminal in Park Street, Radlett, last week.
The Conservative MP reiterated calls for a public inquiry into the plans, which are for five big warehouses and a railway line at the former Radlett Aerodrome site.
In September, Secretary of State Eric Pickles promised a consultation into the matter in September – but in a drastic u-turn two months later – he announced there was ‘no need’ for an inquiry.
During the debate, Mr Clappison said: “It is entirely right we debate the decisions not to hold a conjoined inquiry for the Colnbrook and Radlett proposals, and to grant permission for the Radlett proposal.
“Those decisions can be described only as perverse and unreasonable, in view of what the government have said previously.
“The Secretary of State’s view on September 19 could not have been clearer, nor could the subsequent U-turn.
“How can he take the view in September that a conjoined inquiry is the right way forward, then simply take the opposite view in December, without giving any proper explanation, and decide that one is unnecessary?
“The majority of respondents to the Secretary of State’s letter in September were in favour of a conjoined inquiry, and, in any case, all the responses to the consultation were what would have been expected from the relevant parties.”
The MP also demanded explanation from Eric Pickles as to how that change came about.
He added: “It would be disastrous for the green belt in Hertfordshire and for anybody who has a fondness and affection for the city of St Albans.”
Mr Clappison supported St Alban’s MP Anne Main in paying tribute to campaign group STRIFE, who have been tirelessly trying to fight the proposals.
She said: “The Radlett Green Belt site fulfils all those functions, so it serves a very valuable purpose, even if it is not all beautiful woodland. There is no bad Green Belt.
“My constituents in St Albans need to know whether the Green Belt is safe under this Government, or will the economic imperative to get the country building mean that we ditch those worthy principles when it suits us?”
Nick Boles, the Parliamentary under-secretary of state for communities and local government responded to the concerns raised by both MPs.
He said he was unable to comment specifically on the proposal because it could be subject to judicial review – but added: “Although they and their constituents profoundly disagree with the decision, that decision flows from existing policy, which is unchanged and was set out in the national planning policy framework.
“It explains that the Green Belt is often highly valued by communities and provides a vital “green lung” around many towns.
“In its original draft, as approved by Parliament, the framework states that many types of new building are inappropriate development and should not be granted permission “except in very special circumstances”.
“The key test, as set out in the framework, is whether a particular development meets such very special circumstances.”