Bedford to Cambridge rail proposals under scrutiny

Trumpington Meadows by Caroline Fitton

As east-west rail links between Oxford and Cambridge are proposed, questions are raised about significant impacts on the environment, with further clarification and detail sought on the proposed routes

As well as the proposed Oxford-Cambridge expressway, wishing to see major growth in housing and the economy in the area from Cambridge to Oxford, the Government have proposed a new Oxford to Cambridge rail route via the East West Rail consortium (EWR).

EWR have recently consulted the public on their preferred options for a route from Bedford to Cambridge, while still not revealing actual maps of any of the proposed routes. The Wildlife Trust BCN is not anti-development, however we believe that all developments, including major infrastructure projects, should be designed to be sustainable and achieve a measurable net gain for biodiversity: EWR is unlikely to achieve this based on the options included in their current consultation.

The Wildlife Trust has objected both to the options presented by EWR for a new railway from Bedford to Cambridge, and the process that they are using to build the new railway for the following reasons: 

  • EWR have failed to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment of their route options, which means that they are failing to take account of all the relevant environmental information or present this to the public prior to making their decision.
  • EWR have also failed to unambiguously commit to delivering a measurable net gain in biodiversity.
  • All of the route options presented in their consultation have significant impacts on the natural environment, though some have more than others. These impacts include the potential destruction of wildlife sites including ancient woodlands, flower-rich meadows, and parts of our Trumpington Meadows nature reserve, plus fragmentation of local ecological networks including foraging routes for barbastelle bats.
  • By proposing a separate route to the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, EWR would create two transport corridors and locations for future housing growth, more than doubling the impacts compared to a single East-West transport and growth corridor.

An alternative to EWR's five proposed routes has been put forward by the CamBedRailRoad group, taking a northern approach into Cambridge, which appears to be fast gaining local support.

Having your say
 

Fill in a feedback form to East West Rail consortium - deadline 11 March 
 

View the petition in support of the northern route which will be sent to the Secretary of State

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Corn bunting (Milaria calandra) singing in hedgerow at an arable farm in Hertfordshire. April 2011. - Chris Gomersall/2020VISION