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HomeNewsRadlett Aerodrome campaigners to go to High Court

Radlett Aerodrome campaigners to go to High Court

The £34m sale of the former Radlett Airfield will be reviewed in the High Court, as campaigners continue to argue that it was unlawful.

The former airfield is part of a site that’s been earmarked by developers Segro for a strategic rail freight interchange (SRFI). In June it was sold by Hertfordshire County Council to Segro, who have already started preliminary works on the site.

Campaigners stress that the 300-acres site should not have been sold for development in the way that it was. Last year they submitted an application for a Judicial Review, where a judge is asked to review the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.

Now campaigners have been informed that there is to be a ‘rolled up’ hearing at the High Court. That means that a judge will be asked to grant permission for the Judicial Review to go ahead at a hearing.

And if permission is  granted the Judicial Review will follow immediately – on the same day. No specific date has yet been set for the ‘rolled-up’ hearing. But campaigners expect it to be scheduled as early as May.

St Albans district councillor Nuala Webb, from  the Save St Albans: Fight The Freight campaign, says she is “absolutely delighted” by the decision.

“We knew we had the moral high ground, but this is the first time it has been vindicated by the legal system,” she said.

Hertfordshire County Council and Segro had asked for it to be dismissed without merit – that hasn’t happened.

“There is a case of law to be argued here under what powers the land was acquired and how it could be sold.

“We hope to prove that the land was bought to protect it from development for £1 by Hertfordshire County Council.”

The campaigners’ arguments are rooted in the terms under which the county council purchased the land. They say the council was offered the land for the nominal fee of £1 in the 1984, specifically so that it would be kept as ‘open space’.

They believe the sale is covered by the provisions of the Metropolitan Green Belt Act (1938) and the Open Spaces Act (1906). And that, they say, means that the council should not have sold it in the way that they did.

But the council has repeatedly argued that the decision to sell followed all due process.

In response to an enquiry about the impending hearing in the High Court, a spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “We continue to be confident that the sale of the land in Radlett to Segro for use as a strategic fright rail interchange was undertaken in accordance with all due processes.”

Meanwhile a spokesperson for Segro said: “The law in the UK has provisions for a judge to review the way public bodies make decisions and we are fully aware of the judicial review application challenging Hertfordshire County Council’s sale of land in Radlett to SEGRO.

“As an interested party, we have already provided initial representations to the judge, and now we have more clarity on the next steps we will be pleased to contribute further evidence to the hearing once scheduled.

“This does not change our current position and we will not be commenting comment further while the process is ongoing.”

Since the council’s decision to sell the land to Segro, campaigners have raised in excess of £30,000 to fund their legal costs.

Cllr Webb believes that on the strength of contemporary evidence a Judicial Review should find in their favour.

And if not she says they will know that they did everything possible to protect the Green Belt.

“It’s already been a huge battle,” she said. “And we have been helped by the huge support of the community.”

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