MP warns EWR rail bosses of 'significant impact' of project

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly has written to EWR to highlight concerns.

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly has written to EWR to highlight concerns. - Credit: HUNTS POST

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly has warned rail bosses that plans to build two viaducts near St Neots will have a “significant impact on local communities”. 

In a letter to East West Rail (EWR) chief executive Simon Blanchflower, Mr Djanogly has asked for more details to be released on how close rail tracks would be to residential areas. 

It comes as St Neots Town Council (SNTC) formally asked EWR to "urgently reconsider" its plans to develop on land to the east of the town as part of the proposed Cambridge to Oxford rail project. 

If the project is gets the go ahead, two large viaducts could be constructed that would pass close to developments where thousands of new homes are being built. 

According to EWR drawings, the maximum height of viaducts would be 12 metres (39 feet), which occurs at the point of closest proximity to the housing developments.   

A 10-week consultation ran with EWR until June 9, with 270,000 summaries posted to residents and businesses along the route. 

In Mr Djangoly’s letter, he also asks for a further consultation to “provide more information”. 

He writes: “Routes 1 and 9, through the provision of a local station, will have the benefit of a public transport option connecting my constituents to other areas of the country.  

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“Route alignment 1 also minimises the environmental impact of the scheme in terms of air quality, ecology and biodiversity, landscape and visual impact, noise and vibration. 

“However, I would need to see further detail, particularly in relation to the elevation of the tracks and the proximity of lines to residential areas, which could potentially have a significant impact on local communities, before I could fully support either of these options.” 

The letter continues: “I have been contacted by a number of constituents as well as several parish councils in close proximity to the proposed routes.

"The parish councils of Great Gransden and Waresley-cum-Tetworth are both strongly opposed to options 6 and 8. A view I believe will be shared by many residents in Abbotsley. 

“St Neots Town Council are strongly opposed to the use of two large viaducts outlined in route alignments 1, 2 and 9 and have requested further information about East West Rail Company’s commitment to a net zero carbon railway. 

“It is incredibly important to engage with the Huntingdonshire community on this key project. I hope you will, therefore, consider a further period of non-statutory consultation to provide more detailed information about the options at the earliest opportunity.” 

EWR say the new direct connection between Oxford and Cambridge will “bring faster journey times and lower transport costs as well as easing pressure on local roads”. 

EWR chief executive Simon Blanchflower. 

EWR chief executive Simon Blanchflower. - Credit: EWR

Simon Blanchflower CBE, chief executive at the EWR, said: “The participation in this consultation has been extraordinary, and we’re very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to visit our virtual consultation rooms, attend a webinar or live chat event, and share their thoughts and views by sending a formal response.   
 
“As we begin the work of analysing the feedback which will help us to further develop our plans for the new rail link, our team will continue the conversation with residents, their representatives, business groups and other stakeholders.  

“It may be the end of this consultation but there will be further opportunities for people to have their views heard, and help us make the most of this once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide new, reliable, sustainable transport for communities from Oxford to Cambridge.”  
 
A report is set to be published later this year when information on issues raised in this consultation will be made clear by EWR.

EWR say they will consider all the feedback as it continues to develop plans for the railway and will then make its recommendations to the Government.  

A statutory consultation is expected next year when communities will be asked to give their comments on detailed proposals.  

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