East West Rail Link: Consultation opens as route options revealed
- Credit: Archant
Communities across South Cambs are being urged to have their say on proposed routes for the new East West Rail Link.
A public consultation is open until March 11, with South Cambs District Council set to send a response after debating it at its cabinet meeting on March 6.
The council is urging residents to have their say, with deputy leader Aidan Van de Weyer saying: “We will be making sure the views of our communities are heard by responding to the consultation, but I want to urge everyone locally to have their say.
“The new railway line is important to the area as we need genuine alternatives to the car to help people to get around for work and leisure.
“It also opens up a huge part of the country to our residents where no direct and fast public transport links have been available.”
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Back in September, the district council backed plans for the East West Rail Link – but said they wanted to see issues such as flood management, noise and air pollution, and health taken into consideration when selecting the route.
They also wrote to the government and promoters of the railway calling on them to give consideration to the environment.
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Councillor Van de Weyer has raised question marks regarding the proposed routes and again emphasised the importance of protecting the environment.
“The information published raises many questions for me, such as how the wide areas they have provided as potential routes will be narrowed down, what level crossings will be needed, will any roads need to be closed and where will stations be located?” he said.
“We have a huge opportunity to deliver a fantastic transport link whilst also making sure that the route delivers a positive environmental legacy too.
“We want South Cambridgeshire to be green to its core and will be making sure the importance of the highest environmental standards is made crystal clear.”
Community group CamBed Rail Road – who have been lobbying to create the best route for the rail link – have expressed their disappointment at the proposed plans.
The group wanted the option of a route entering Cambridge from the north, with CBRR chairman Sebastian Kindersley believing that East West Rail has taken the cheaper option.
“We are disappointed that East West Rail has not included our option for consideration despite widespread support from local MPs, councils and residents,” he said.
“EWR appears to have selected low cost and obviously low benefit options which deliver very little indeed to local people and which now present a considerable planning blight on communities across Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.
“Meanwhile, EWR ignores the needs of 70,000 people immediately to the north and west of Cambridge – with more development planned.
“This is a ‘once-in-a-generation’ opportunity to get a major piece of national infrastructure right and must not be squandered.
“We will be contributing to this non-statutory consultation and making our argument forcefully.
“We will focus on taking up EWR’s significant open invitation to be persuaded that there are operational, technical, planning, programming, environmental and financial advantages to be gained by entry from the north – even EWR agrees ‘it is not too late to see sense’.”
All five planned routes propose new stations in either Sandy or Tempsford in Bedfordshire.
North East Beds MP Alistair Burt is encouraging constituents to have their say, too.
“I know constituents are keen to have their say in the final location of the route, and I hope everyone will take the opportunity to look at the proposals and give their feedback,” he said.
“This is the first consultation stage which will allow residents to contribute at an early stage; a later statutory consultation will follow before final routes and station locations are decided.
“This is an exciting and ambitious project that will link communities and reduce travel costs and journey times between them.
“It will help create opportunities for businesses to grow and create jobs, and support housing growth in the area. The government has committed to investing in this infrastructure which will provide a significant boost for the local area.”
To have your say, visit eastwestrail.co.uk/haveyoursay.