Bedford campaign groups, MPs and councillors deliver East West …
They say this declaration demonstrates growing and united opposition to the proposals
A delegation of MPs, parliamentary candidates, district, borough and county councillors parish councils and environmental and other campaign groups have signed a declaration opposing the proposals for the East West Rail (EWR) between Bedford and Cambridge.
The final route was announced by EWR in May.
As the list of signatories from the public increases, campaign groups BFARe (Bedford For a Re Consultation) and Cambridge Approaches say this declaration demonstrates growing and united opposition to the proposals.Delegates meet with Huw Merriman, left
It was delivered in person to the rail minister, Huw Merriman, and includes signatures from members of parliament and parliamentary candidates,the chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council, the mayor of Bedford, county, district and borough councillors, parish councillors, campaign groups and transport and environmental organisations.
Hundreds of residents have also signed the declaration.
Mike Barlow, spokesperson for BFARe, said: “The diesel East West Railway is an inefficient and antiquated Victorian transport solution without merit for modern ecological East West travel.
"Building a destructive greenfield railway, without a corresponding spatial transport plan, at taxpayer expense, without a credible business case must be called out as completely unacceptable for the residents who it purports to serve.
“The EWR proposal includes homebuilding well beyond that specified in the 2040 Local Plan. Housing development in Bedfordshire is already 3.5 times higher than the national average.
"Bedford simply does not have the facilities, the schools, the doctor’s surgeries and the supporting greenfield road networks to support the existing level of developments even without those proposed by East West Rail.”
Campaigners argue the proposal does not include a spatial transport strategy for how people will access the two EWR stations between Bedford and Cambridge, which they say will force further cars on to the existing road network and add to town centre gridlock and pollution.
Additionally, they say the EWR proposal does not provide a sensible solution for rail freight transport and instead will force rail freight through congested, highly-populated and already polluted town centres.
Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire, Richard Fuller, who has signed the declaration, said at a Westminster Hall debate: “The route chosen is so full of twists and turns and ups and downs, it surely competes with what is our country’s bendiest road.”
Campaigners say precious grade two agricultural land between Cambridge and Bedford will be lost to this “housing sprawl” and believe East West Rail is just an excuse to build on lucrative greenfield sites.
She said: “EWR is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. It has the potential to positively impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.”
To sign the East West Rail Declaration of Opposition, email your name and first part of your postcode to [email protected]. Where relevant, include whether you are an elected official and the ward, district or parish you represent.