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East West Rail Route Alignment Announcement

1st June 2023

Following the recent announcement that Route E (alignment 1) is the chosen alignment for East West Rail, CPRE Bedfordshire reasserts its concerns about this choice.

The main objection to Route E is that there has been a complete absence of recognition by the East West Rail Company (EWR Co) of the negative environmental impact the route will have across an area of tranquil countryside and rural villages in the northern part of Bedford Borough. We have always believed that Route E is the worst option and our views have not changed.

The published EWR Co route assessment reports show that a high-level approach to environmental matters was adopted, whereby consideration was only given to locations with formal designations such as Green Belt, AONB, SSSIs and heritage assets. As a result, no significant environmental impacts are recognised as applying to the section of the route that goes across open countryside north of Bedford. We also reiterate our position that for environmental reasons, EWR should be electrified from day one.

CPRE Bedfordshire maintain Route E positions EWR as a means to unlock North Bedfordshire for the development of major new settlements which, with associated road infrastructure, would overwhelm and urbanise the character of this area of precious countryside. We have continually challenged this and will continue to do so.

We are still concerned that a sound business case has not yet been presented and that many of the figures quoted in the current documentation are not based in reality and are simply created to give weight to the Route E decision.

We have seen nothing in the current information to change our views on this EWR route and, along with organisations including BFARe and STARC, we will continue to campaign to save our countryside.