St Albans District Council has lodged a claim in the High Court to challenge the Government’s decision to approve plans for a huge rail freight terminal on a Green Belt site.

The claim challenges Eric Pickles' decision to grant planning permission for a rail freight terminal in Park Street, near St Albans.

Mr Pickles, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, decided to allow a second appeal brought by Helioslough Limited in July - which concerned the council’s refusal of planning permission for a strategic rail freight interchange on the former Radlett aerodrome site.

The council is challenging the decision on three points of law - the first concerned with the legality of the Secretary of State’s approach in taking his decision.

The second ground for appeal relates to the misapplication of wording in the National Planning Policy Framework, a document that sets out planning policy nationally. The third ground for challenge relates to "procedural irregularity and inconsistency" on the rail freight interchange decision. 

This follows the Secretary of State’s recent refusal of planning permission for a waste incinerator plant, also on Green Belt land, at New Barnfield in Hatfield.

The council’s leader and portfolio holder for planning and conservation Julian Daly said: "The council considers that the proposed rail freight interchange at this site will be harmful to the District’s Green Belt.  

"We believe that the Secretary of State’s recent decision to grant planning permission is flawed legally.  We are therefore taking action to challenge the decision in the High Court."

St Albans MP Anne Main said she was pleased the council were fighting the proposal.

She said: "I have never been happy with the decision taken by the Secretary of State. Very similar proposals have been refused on two previous occasions and I believe this should also be refused. 

"I am outraged that this David and Goliath fight is costing my council so much to stand up for the people of St Albans and defend its own robust planning policies. I will continue to do all I can to fight this proposal and to assist the Council with their challenge."

The council has spent more than £1 million to date in the seven-year fight against the Helioslough scheme.