Beds-Cambs rail route off-track for protecting key wildlife habitats

Beds-Cambs rail route off-track for protecting key wildlife habitats

Photo by Becky Green.

The decision to take East West Rail to Cambourne reduces the risks of ecological damage, but a route to the north of the A428 offers enormous potential and should be properly investigated

The Department for Transport has announced that the section of East West Rail from Bedford to Cambridge will run through Cambourne, rather than Bassingbourn. However, they have not looked in detail at the option to take the line further north as it heads east to Cambridge, which could significantly reduce the risk to key wildlife sites.

The announcement on January 30 2020 helps reduce the risk to key ancient woodland sites both from damage from building the railway itself, and also from the inevitable increase in housing that will eventually follow the rail corridor. However, no decision has been made yet about whether the route will pass to the north of south of Roxton, leaving wildlife-rich woodlands and grasslands at risk until that section of the route has been finalised.

More worryingly, the Government continues to refuse to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the proposals, which would require them to consider alternative routes, such as a route north of the current A428, and take into account the ecological impacts of those alternatives.

The Government has also failed to commit to electrifying the route, leaving diesel trains as the only option for East West Rail. Electrification, which would be much easier to implement as the route is built, would allow energy to come from low-carbon sources in the future.

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.

Have your say

East West Rail Co. are holding community events throughout the region in February and March. Anyone is welcome to attend to find out more, ask questions or give feedback.

Find an event near you


Rethink the Arc

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is the UK Government's plan for growing the economy, housing and infrastructure (like roads and railways) in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire. 

But in spite of local ambitions to protect the environment the plans have not properly considered the impacts on nature and climate.

The Government have launched a consultation to give you the chance to raise your priorities and concerns about this project. We have teamed up with the RSPB, The Woodland Trust, Berkshire Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust and CPRE to take a stand - will you join us and have your say?

Our e-action makes it easy to share your thoughts about the project.

Join our Rethink the Arc Campaign

Get all the latest campaign updates

We'll send you regular updates about the Wilder Future campaign, plus news and information about ways you can get involved with our other campaigns for local wildlife.

Sign up to our campaign e-news