Saturday, 15 April 2017

Cricklewood Freight terminal update - Trains roll in without planning permission

In the London Borough of Barnet, there is one rule for ordinary citizens and another for powerful multinational commercial interests. The council is all to happy to employ hit teams of private contractors to rigorously enforce parking restrictions, which have often been introduced in completely arbitary ways, with zero thought for local residents and businesses. When it comes to big business and planning, it seems that they have no interest at all in enforcing their own rules, guidelines and procedures. There are dozens of examples of this, but perhaps the most brazen of all at present is what is happening on the railway lands in Cricklewood. There is a proposal, submitted to Barnet Council on Feb 28th, 2017 to build a rail freight terminal handling aggregates. The plan will see 10,000 tons of aggregates being handled every week, generating 9 lorries per hour. Full details of this is laid out in the Transport assessment. The hours of operation are (according to section 5.12 of this document) "It is planned that the business will operate 6 days per week Monday to Saturday, with operating hours of 6am to 6pm, however core hours are expected to be 7am to 5pm." The pattern is likely to be as follows "It is expected that there will be a fairly even spread of deliveries over the week, and in order to allow forvariation and provide a robust figure the 10 hour core operation has been used to predict the hourly traffic generation. This results in an average of 9 two way HGV trips per hour throughout each day. At this stage it is assumed that there will bea split of deliveries from the site, one third by 30 tonne capacity vehicles and two thirds by 20 tonne capacity vehicles. On this basis this is equivalent to 267 loads or 534 two way HGV trips". Amazingly, in section 6.19 they note that the effect of this traffic on the already congested Edgware road is as follows "The site is roposed for the transportation of aggregates by rail. The transport and highway impacts have been considered in this report and it has been concluded that the impacts will be negligible and that the proposal is compliant with national and local policies".

If you know the area, this map below shows the access plaan onto the Edgware Road, supporting the site.

This morning I yet again checked the status of the plan. When we first covered the subject, back in March, the local community were unaware. As a result of our first blog on the subject, there are now 64 letters of objection. As you can see, the plan is still in the pending consideration stage.

Status as per 15/04/2016

Loading, DB Cargo AG
Unloading the aggregates
So the site clearly is highly contentious, has not been granted planning permission and is talks are still under way. There are two issues about this whole thing which disturb me. The first is the arrogance of DB Rail (the railway company owned by The German Government which is proposing the site ) in stating that they can't be bothered to consult with the local population to mitigate the impact on their community. In the laughably titled "Statement of comunity involvement" para 3.1 they state "Given the very specific detailed technical operations proposed on site for the Railfreight Facility to deal with the transportation by rail of aggregate it was decided not to engage with the public directly. It was considered that there would be no benefit to either DB Cargo or the   general public from such a consultation. However, the application for a permanent RFF will be fully consulted upon". In plain English that translates to "We think the public are too think to understand the effect of 9 lorries an hour and the noise and dust generated by moving 10,000 tons of aggregates a week through their community". There is an interesting press release on the DB rail website showing how this sort of facility works. Looks pretty noisy/dusty to me.

It is clear just what the bosses of these companies think of the people who have to live with the effects of their profit making schemes. The arrogance is breathtaking. However if you think it is bad enough that they don't give a stuff about the ordinary people, their attitude to the law and the planning authority is even more shocking. Here for your perusal is a video that may interest you.

As you can see the depot has been built and there is a train with a set of wagons in the facility. The video was taken on Thursday 13/4/2017. It seems that DB Rail feel no need to actually get planning permission from the Council and follow due process, to build and start using the site. One has to ask, what is the purpose of having a planning process if companies simply ignore it and do what they like.  There are a few things I think do need to be said. Firstly, I support the concept of moving freight off the road and onto rail where possible. It is more eco friendly and sustainable than convoys of lorries, however this cannot be an excuse to ride roughshod over local communities and to ignore planning rules. There is absolutely no excuse to refuse to consult. In urban settings, such facilities should be housed in such a way to negate the effects of noise and dust. To claim that 10 lorries an hour will have no effect on traffic on the Edgware road is ridiculous. Anyone who drives, knows that Lorries move slower, accelerate slower and have to be given a wide berth. To me it seems that the access to the site is awful. I would assume that many will need to cross the Edgware road to get to the North Circular. This is ignored in the diagram. My assumption is one of the justifications for the aggregates is to supply the mega building project on the Brent Cross site. As such the site is on the wrong side of the railway, with a totally inappropriate road access. Of course DB rail has already said they consider local people to thick to understand such issues. I rather suspect that in Germany, such facilities are a tad "Vorsprung Durch Technic" and local people are not ridden roughshod over in such ways. Maybe that is why the UK is such a good place for foreign rail companies to make juicy profits?

I will give the last word to Jessica Howey, just one of 64 people to have objected to the proposal. I chose her objection at random as a fairly representative one. Jessica has requested the opportunity to speak at the planning meeting.

Comment: The transfer of aggregates in the open without cover from train to lorries using a mechanical grabber will create noise, dust, dirt and pollution and intolerable traffic on the Edgware Road, which is already heavily congested. This is totally unacceptable in the 21st century and makes a mockery of the London Mayor's attempts to improve the quality of air in London. It will also seriously affect the quality of life in the Railway Terraces Conservation area. There will also be considerable light pollution as the site will have 24 hour security and work will take place from 6am to 6 pm. The railway terraces and our allotments are very close to the proposed site but no screening or protection is proposed. However screening is proposed for the new flats in Fellows Square currently being marketed in the Far East by London estate agents. The Railway Terraces have been ignored by DB Cargo, which has an abysmal track record on the site in question where there have been many polluting and illegal fires. DB Cargo's past performance and failure to manage the site should dictate that this application is rejected outright.


Unknown said...

Thank you for raising this. It is shocking that it is going ahead without any consultation. I hope Barnet wake up and act.

Alison Hopkins said...

It isn't only Barnet being impacted by this mess. Cricklewood bus garage were renting a parking area and were suddenly and summarily kicked off it. That's meant massive hassle and disruption as 700 drivers all try to park in Brent!

All of this is classic Barnet. I cite the Brent Cross mess, m'lud.

Anne Clarke said...

Absolutely! Once again Barnet isn't listening to its own residents and being a bad neighbour to Brent and, by extension, Camden with traffic tailbacks. No one wants more traffic on the A5. Residents deserve a real consultation and for Barnet to listen.
This is only the beginning of the "regeneration", there is so much opportunity with such a massive project. Unfortunately, Barnet seem intent on plowing on ahead with an ancient plan and to hide from residents when things get messy.

Peter Walker said...

I cannot see an email address on DB Rail's website. Would it be useful to post a printed copy of your blog to DB Cargo (UK) Limited whose registered office is at:
Lakeside Business Park, Carolina Way, Doncaster DN4 5PN? The company registration number is 02938988, so a search on the Companies House website would reveal the names of directors and company secretary.

Sam Green said...

The railway has been there for over 160 years ! it doesn`t need planning permission because the land has already been used for railway use in the past so there has been no change of use ! You would been better off campaigning for better noise screening and water spraying to reduce dust .There will be less noise when the Bottom discharge facility is finally built [which could be screened off to reduce noise ].Less noise than a noisy digger grabbing the stone out of the top of the wagons as is the case now.

Rog T said...

Dear Sam,

Not quite sure how to put this politely without sounding patronising. If there was no need for planning permission, then DB rail would not have bothered applying for it. If you bothered to read the post, you'd see a link to the application lodged on the councils website. Whilst I always appreciate comments, idiotic ones always pose a challenge. Don 't really know what else to say


Paula said...

Hello everyone

Still curious as to whether anybody has contacted Barnet's planning enforcement team to report this and demand some action. However pointless you may think that would be, it is a pretty basic starting point, rather than just hoping the Council will 'wake up' and take action. This company are clearly hoping to get a foot in the door, and one of the biggest weapons corporations like this rely on is the pessimism of local residents, so why not prove them wrong and start demanding enforcement action now?