CPRE Bedfordshire working in partnership with BFARe
CPRE Bedfordshire, the countryside charity are pleased to be working in partnership with the BFARe (Bedford For A Re-Consultation) campaign.
BFARe are petitioning for a reconsideration of the consultation outcome announced in January 2020, when Route E was chosen as the preferred route for East West Rail from Bedford to Cambridge.
The next stage for EWR, which is due to start soon, is to consult on alignment options within Route E. BFARe want to see this consultation take on board a review of how the chosen route compares to Route B. CPRE and other environmental charities identified Route B as the least damaging route in terms of environmental impacts. Our aims are therefore closely aligned with BFARe and we believe that by working together we can reach a wider audience and have greater impact.
CPRE Bedfordshire supports East West Rail (electrified) in principle but see it primarily as a means of reducing congestion on major road networks, reducing air pollution and carbon footprint, not as a means of creating a massive new urban conurbation stretching from Oxford to Cambridge.
We are particularly concerned that:
The choice of Route E will have a devastating impact on the countryside at a time when tackling climate change and biodiversity loss should be at the top of the planning agenda. Route E will also cause serious environmental pollution to town residents and lead to the destruction of the hugely important North Bedfordshire countryside and the Great Ouse Valley, which the Borough Council would like to see opened up to the development of new towns.
Decisions are being made on the basis of a consultation that lacked full transparency, for example, Bedford Borough Council’s support for Route E was not made public before the consultation and was never debated in public. In fact, the Council’s support for Route E was not made known to many Borough Councillors until months after the consultation was concluded.
What are we doing?
We believe that it is important that residents have a chance to see an independent examination of the relative merits of Route B and Route E and are given an opportunity to give a better informed opinion, based on more detailed information about how the performance of the routes has been assessed. Working with BFARe we will aim to share information via our website, social media and other communication channels to provide information to as wide an audience as possible.
We will continue to campaign to protect the Bedfordshire countryside, to champion the need for local people to be heard and hold our Local Authorities to account.
We will continue to advocate for Route B, a more environmentally-friendly route, that will bring just as many benefits to Bedford, including a Parkway station at Wixams, a reduction in traffic entering Bedford Town Centre, minimising congestion, noise and pollution, improving the quality of life of Bedford residents.