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District Councillor Supports Cambourne North

A prominent Lib. Dem. District Councillor for the Harston and Comberton Ward (representing the parishes of Barton, Comberton, Coton, Grantchester, Harlton, Harston, Haslingfield, Hauxton, South Trumpington) and recent, narrowly defeated MP candidate has come out supporting a Cambourne North Station for the East West Railway. This is not a party political issue, but it is good to see cross-party support for this. Here is Ian Sollom’s statement:

“An EWR route via Cambourne is undoubtedly right for South Cambs, but in the coming consultation we need to see more options than we saw in the previous one, which had a station only on the south side of Cambourne, and suggested only a single route corridor from there into Cambridge.
A well designed and well-placed station to the north side of Cambourne has the potential to be transformative for the community, while a route from there into Cambridge North could be a much better fit for future local development. Both of these options should be included in EWR’s next consultation so the people of South Cambs can have their say on these alternatives.”

So we now have Anthony Browne MP, Mayor James Palmer, Councillor Ian Sollom, the Cambridge Approaches Oversight Group vote from 12 parishes and Cambourne Town Council amongst many others all asking EWR Co. to put a Cambourne North Station into their next Consultation. We have also now heard verbally from EWR Co.’s Will Gallagher and Ian Parker that they are looking closely at a Cambourne North option for the next consultation.

If a Cambourne North route does appear in the next consultation, it seems likely to be popular with all the politicians.

It is also good to see some press coverage of Anthony Browne’s call for a Cambourne North Station in the Cambridge Independent including comment from EWR Co. that they are looking at a Cambourne North Station. The EWR Co. spokeperson said “We are exploring the option for a station in the north of Cambourne as we continue to develop route alignment options, prior to consulting the public early next year.”

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Logging EWR Survey Activity

You may have noticed an increased level of activity in the area proposed for East West Rail to come from Cambourne to Cambridge South. Survey teams from Arup or EWR Co. looking  at the fields, the wildlife and the general environment as a preparation for a new railway line through our countryside. 

We have an interactive map that shows survey requests received by landowners but this may now be out of date. Please would you be so kind to look at it and see if your are aware of survey locations not on the map. Be aware of a potential GDPR issue here, so it is better to report on your own land rather than others, but also to report on anything seen on public roads / rights of way. 

So, if your land is being surveyed, you have received a request for a survey or you see a survey team on a public highway / right of way that is not recorded please could you update the map?

To add a survey location and label to the map click the add marker icon (a grey balloon shaped icon) under the search box on the map, click the location of the survey and then label it.

This is important as it allows us to have information from which we can detect lines of activity and inform your parish accordingly. 

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MP Calls for North Cambourne Station Consultation

We really welcome following press release from Anthony Browne supporting a Cambourne North Station for the East West Railway. This position was also the most popular option that came out of the Cambridge Approaches oversight group in a series of seven meetings leading up to the one held on the 8th October. This was attended by Anthony Browne MP, Will Gallagher of East West Rail, Aidan Van De Weyer Deputy Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council and representatives from the parishes from Bourn to Great Shelford. Cambridge Approaches called on East West Rail to include a Cambourne North route in their next consultation expected in January 2021.

In a recent meeting between the CA working group and Mayor James Palmer he told us that he also supports a Cambourne North station for East West Rail.

A Cambourne North station implies a route similar to the example set out in this post from Cambridge Approaches and has a profound impact on the routing of the railway at it approaches Cambridge. We stress that the CA route is just an example and there is considerable more detailed work to do in threading the route through the various constraints between Cambourne North and Cambridge South.

The MPs press release follows:

“Anthony Browne, MP for South Cambridgeshire, has welcomed news that East-West Rail (EWR) is considering a station to the north of Cambourne and is calling for the option to be included in any future consultation. 

As part of a meeting between EWR and local Parish Councillors, chaired and organised by Mr Browne, officials confirmed that the possibility of a railway station to the north of Cambourne was under active consideration. 

Mr Browne worked towards securing a northern option as part of his general election campaign and has written to the Secretary of State for Transport on this issue. He is continuing to arrange high-level meetings between senior EWR planners and local representatives.

Twenty-eight Parish Councils were represented at the meeting, which was addressed by the EWR Director of Strategy Will Gallagher, with Program Delivery Director Ian Parker taking questions on the design and implementation of the railway. Ashton Cull, Senior Policy Advisor to Combined Authority Mayor James Palmer was also in attendance. 

Several other local concerns were also raised during the meeting, including early electrification of the railway, potential timetabling issues and the environmental impact of the scheme. 

Mr Browne commented: “East-West Rail is clearly listening to local opinion and I am delighted to hear they are considering a station north of Cambourne. I’m now calling on them to include any such option as part of a future public consultation. 

“I believe there is a very powerful case for a station to the north of Cambourne, where it will avoid many much-loved areas of natural beauty and will provide better connections with other transport links, such as the A428.

“We need better public transport links through South Cambridgeshire, but it is important that any engagement is wide-ranging, transparent and happens as early on in this process as is possible. Residents have the right to know what they can expect from this project.”

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Business Case

Does the EWR Co. Option E Decision meet its Own Assessment Criteria?

The EWR Co. assessment is based on these 4 principles taken from page 7 of their document Connecting Communities: The Preferred Route Option between Bedford and Cambridge Executive Summary:

“• Creating connections: not just laying down steel and concrete, we are focused on designing a railway that is most likely to create connections between local communities that will support the economic growth and prosperity in the area 

• Rooted in community: at a very early stage in the design of the route between Bedford and Cambridge, we consulted local communities, asking for comments and points of view on the new route. The responses were central to the way we made our decision, and means the Preferred Route Option is fundamentally grounded in feedback from the community, stakeholders and local authorities.

• Environment at the forefront: we developed route options with environmental considerations at the forefront. Rather than being an after-thought, we used environmental data as a fundamental part of our decision-making process. Our communities can have confidence that the Preferred Route Option has been selected to support ambitions for East West Rail to increase biodiversity and acting in a way which respects important environmental and heritage sites in the local area 

• Cutting-edge techniques to develop cost estimates: taxpayers must have confidence in our ability to manage the financial side of the project and deliver value for money. To reduce the risk of cost over-runs later in the project, we used cutting edge techniques and new digital technology to produce our indicative cost estimates. Whilst there remains significant uncertainty in these cost estimates, these innovative techniques will help us to continue refining and improving our estimates, supporting better decision making now, and pointing to opportunities for potential cost savings in the future”

Three  of the five options assessed by EWR Co. went through Bassingbourn and were challenged by CBRR (Cambridge Bedford Rail Road) and Cambourne was chosen as an intermediate stop instead of Bassingbourn. We now wish to analyse that decision using the same 4 principles and the Treasury target for SCBA (Social Cost Benefit Analysis).   

We now wish to analysis the Option E based on these 5 principles :-

  • Creating Connections:
    • Passengers 
      • The volume of traffic between Cambridge and Bedford has not been proven
      • The local movements are no doubt demonstrable given local traffic issues in Cambridge and local stops (with or without passing points) are not in the initial build. So we need an analysis of a phase 2 – the inclusion of local stops. But in that case a light rail solution such as the Cambridge Autonomous Metro will be more cost effective.
      • Cambridge East (Cambridge Airport and Fulbourn) is not included.
    • Freight
      • The existing line from Cambridge onwards to Felixstowe is old, single track and has many level crossings.
      • Freight levels have not been identified in the reports to date despite planned increases to Felixstowe docks
      • Freight would have to pass through Cambridge to Ely under current published plans, probably at night.
    • Technologies
      • The proposed route passes through rural countryside – not past science parks 
      • The railway line does not connect with the expansion of Cambridge University in North West Cambridge where it has built both academic facilities and accommodation facilities 
      • The trains are planning to be diesel – hardly the latest technology.

The result is that the connections have been attempted but they are not the most efficient and neither maximise connectivity nor do they maximise or support local prosperity growth.

  • Rooted in the Community:
    • The local plan for the 3 boroughs of South Cambridgeshire, Cambridge City and East Cambridgeshire have not been followed despite an explicit plea to do so in the South Cambs consultation response and as evidenced by EWRCo.’s proposal for a station near Caxton to serve Cambourne.
    • The weightings of the various stakeholders have not been revealed
    • We have been told that certain villages would be in favour of a Northern Route into Cambridge – these villages/communities in North Cambridge were not, as far as we are aware, consulted. 
    • It is inevitable that rural communities in Cambridgeshire will be divided by the railway line –  this is unnecessary in a county that is planning to develop new villages and towns; these new communities could be developed around stopping points on the new line and be less divisive 

The result is that the decision has not been rooted in the Community and will create more disruption than is necessary.

  • Environment at the Forefront:
    • The area of Option E has been left as a green area between Cambridge and the gradual expansion of London northwards. This area that has been carefully preserved, will now be divided by putting the proposed line in the area currently identified.
    • The environment of the rural villages will be changed forever whatever the mitigation.
    • The animal life will be disturbed more than is necessary
    • A railway line that follows transport corridors would minimise the impact – this has not been attempted
    • Freight trains will go through the middle of Cambridge and possibly all night

The result is a route designed to create maximum environmental impact to rural and town communities.

  • Cutting Edge Techniques:
    • The new railway line will last 150 years; planning should work on this basis. 
    • There is no assessment of the impact of local stations that we assume would come in phase 2 with local stops at intermediate stations, nor an assessment of its impact on light rail solutions such as CAM.
    • The plan should allow for the most direct route for freight along planned transport corridors – that has been achieved in part.  But where is the assessment of completing the A428/A14 transport corridor?
    • Modern techniques will allow us to follow the corridor and hence minimise community, environmental and commercial dislocations 

To date cutting edge techniques have not been used to predict the cost benefits ratios; wider community consultation should be undertaken now.

  • Social Cost Benefit Analysis (SCBA):

Because quantitative assessment of land use changes is not included in the justification of the current decision between route options A to E or indeed routes to the north of Cambridge, the EWR Co. decision  is not soundly made based on the data presented in their Option Report.

We believe that the current justification under SCBA depends on increase in property values; however, as the basis is unknown, it is not possible to compare the decision route with the alternatives. 

We strongly believe that alignment with the Local Plan(s) will create greater value in a shorter time frame. We are not alone in thinking this, a key stakeholder, South Cambridgeshire district council said the following in their consultation response:

Uncertainty regarding growth implications of consultation.
Further to the above however, we note in the strategic objectives that the most significant relates to supporting growth, and that the business case for the railway is predicated upon such growth. We note from the consultation and other evidence that there is very significant uncertainty as to the scale of growth envisaged around potential station locations. Evidence sources and modelling assumptions referenced vary greatly, and the only certainty seems to be that the implied growth above and beyond current Local Plan commitments would be substantial.”

In addition, over a 150 year period, that should be used for analysis of a project of this sort, the impact of ongoing benefits will outweigh any additional cost of putting the proposed new railway line in the right place to minimise operating costs over its whole life and optimise benefits to the community.  

Summary

We call for a much closer co-ordination between EWR Co, the district and county councils to come up with a more complete business case. This will either prove the existing case or it may reach very different conclusions about the best route. Perhaps there is a role for a senior politician to co-ordinate the views of the parties and reach a considered opinion based on all the facts and report publicly as part of the consultation.

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EWR Impact on Farming and UK Food Security

We received the following input from Edd Banks a local farmer in the option E area. His also chairman of the National Farmers Union (Cambridge branch).

“The EWR proposal will have a great impact on many different parts of our community, but one part that will be hit hard is the agricultural sector. Cambridgeshire is the bread basket of England with just over 50% of the all the wheat grown in England, grown within 50 miles of Cambridge. The land is fertile with most of it being categorised as grade 2 arable land and the character of the area is one of large open fields which is what helps make it much more efficient to farm and to boost yields. Often when organisations such as EWR Co. start their evaluation of where to put infrastructure such as new railway lines, the farm land is the obvious choice, but what they do not understand is the impact it will have on the productivity of the farmland and the subsequent effect on the individual farmer. Often the land has been in the family ownership for generations. Everything about farming is for the long term, there are no quick wins in agriculture and it takes a lot of time, effort, money and emotion over countless years to get the land into the condition it is. If the land was purchased more recently the farmer will be still trying to pay that off, which from the income generated from farming will take many years, only making the land economically viable for the next generation to farm it. Physically dividing blocks of land by cutting a railway through it will create many problems and the newly designated route will not have taken into account how that land is farmed. 

Therefore, you could end up severing one large field, which is efficient to farm and gives the opportunity to gain the best yields, into several smaller odd shaped fields that become uneconomic to farm and prohibitive for the large-scale modern machinery used these days. This means instead of just losing the area taken up by the railway, the farmer will effectively lose the entire field as the remainder will simply end up fallow. 

Another issue often over looked is the logistics of how the new segmented fields are farmed. In other words, if a field is sliced into multiple smaller fields by the railway and if those remaining areas are still farmable, how does the farmer move their machinery (crop sprayers, cultivators, combines etc) from one part of the field to the next. With EWR Co.’s commitment to having no level crossings, this could lead to farmers having to drive considerable distances (they will therefore often be forced to go through villages) just to reach the other side of the field. The new bridges and underpasses created by EWR Co. also need to be large enough to allow the largest machines farmers use to pass over or through them, otherwise this could effectively prohibit access to parts of land or cause even longer diversions. 

Other issues which will never be assessed by EWR Co. are the disruption to field drainage schemes, water logged areas of land due to shading from new landscaping and the devastation caused to crops by rabbits that will invariably take up residence in the cuttings and embankments of the new railway. All of these problems are considerable, because not only will EWR Co. create water logged areas of land which become much harder to farm or even unfarmable, but also the farmer will have to take on the cost of the control of the rabbits. Ultimately, they will never be able to control them as well as before and so large areas of land (made worse if the fields are small due to the division by the railway) will have substantial yield loss. This could be to such an extreme that again the fields become uneconomic to farm and therefore production would cease on that block. Putting this is into a national perspective, the UK is currently only 60% self-sufficient in terms of food and with continued pressure on agriculture land from new developments such as EWR, this position will only worsen.”

This input is consistent with the recent feedback that we have received from the local branch of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.

The high grade farmland in the option E area is important for UK food security. Global sea levels are rising due to climate change and the IPCC prediction is that they will rise by 1.1 metres by 2100. More recently other studies have predicted much higher rises up to the 4.7m predicted by the surging seas studies by the same date. After a single Fenland flood in 1949 it took 8-9 years for the farmland to recover due to a species of nematode in the flood water. Floods could happen well before 2100. This means that we may well lose the most productive farmland in the country in The Fens. However, the higher farmland in the option E area would not be flooded and would therefore become even more precious.

Consider also that if the railway goes through the Option E area, over time, the local planning will favour new stations, jobs and housing along side the railway infrastructure. Perhaps Garden Villages with 5000 houses as already proposed by the Mayor. These will further damage the farmland and reduce the national food security.

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Update from EWR Co.

AC7XAK Freightliner freight train, pulling out of the North rail freight terminal, Port of Felixstowe, Suffolk, UK.. Image shot 04/2007. Exact date unknown.

We received an update from the East West Rail Company today which reports on the conversations held with parish councils along the line of the route from Bedford to Cambridge. We also reported on this in a previous post for the sessions held in with parishes close to Cambridge in the Option E area. You can download EWR Co.’s full document below:

It’s a long document but highlights include some new material on the location of Cambourne Station on page 8 ..

“As mentioned, the exact location of new stations has not yet been decided, and we will be working with local authorities and other stakeholders to make sure the locations work for local communities.

We would be open to exploring the possibility of a station in the north of Cambourne.”

and aligning the route with the A428 see page 6 ..

“Specifically, on the A428, we are working with their [Highways England] team to see whether there is a practical way to bring the projects together being mindful that it is not as straightforward as it might seem at first – railways do not like hills or bends and the station stops might not fit well with the needs of road users. However, as mentioned, we will keep talking to our counterparts at the A428 and the other projects across the area to create not just the best rail system, but the best transport system we can.

As previously reported it seems EWR Co. are looking at a route similar to the one we described in this post. It’s nice to see this in a document put out by EWR Co. although there are no commitments yet.

Meanwhile let’s keep up the pressure to avoid the damaging routes in the option E area in favour of ones that work better with the local development plans. See the supporters menu for some ideas of what you can do.

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Option E Webinars -Please Register

High Speed 1 Line

We published a map of alternative route alignments in EWR’s option E search area. These have been presented to representatives of about twelve local parish councils (Toft, Comberton, Barton, The Eversdens, Harlton, Haslingfield, Harston, Hauxton, Little Shelford, South Trumpington, Great Shelford), some district and county councillors and members of the public. The presentation and discussion has been at an on-going series of meetings, with the aim to reach some consensus about their relative merits and for subsequent presentation to other stakeholders including East West Rail. Note these are not the EWR route alignments, we expect those to appear in January 2021.

We would like to present these routes to interested members of the public and, given the Covid-19 situation, the best way is via webinar. As with the parish councils, the routes will be presented by David Revell of Cambridge Approaches who is a civil engineer with extensive experience with railways and a resident of the area.

The schedule of these webinars is as follows:

We expect the webinars to last about an hour and there will be opportunities to ask questions.

Please click on the links above to register for the webinar date that you would like to attend (the content will be the same in each webinar).

There is a limit to the number of people we can support on each webinar, so it may be good to register early.

*** UPDATE 4/10/2020 ***

If you missed the webinar you can view the presentation given yesterday on this link.

If you are concerned about the route that the railway may take through our area you can help generate awareness by print out this poster and putting it your front window.

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Progress Update 2

View North from Money Hill, close to a Railway Cutting being Studied by EWR (see Alternative 3).

Since our last progress update the working group has had two further well attended meetings of the Cambridge Approaches Oversight Group with local parish councils from Toft to the Shelfords. These were to discuss the relative merits of the representative alternative route options presented here. The approach has been to develop an objective assessment of the impact on the different villages and to understand particular issues from each parish. The meeting on the 3rd September was a presentation by David Revell of the different routes. The meeting on the 10th September focussed largely on alternative route 1/1a and the issues as it passes south of Barton and close to the Trumpington Park and Ride area. The 10th September meeting was attended by a BBC journalist.

The meetings continue weekly.

The CA working group met with Bridget Smith the leader of the South Cambridgeshire District Council on the 9th September. She encouraged us to continue and explained various related activities related to the Oxford – Cambridge Arc. She confirmed that EWR will be a freight route from the Felixstowe to The Midlands. (Note that Felixstowe currently handles 48% of UK container traffic.). It emerged that Anthony Browne has come out publicly supporting an EWR station to the north of Cambourne. If this happens, it will have a profound impact on the route options through the option E area. We are actively researching this.

We have sent a second FOI request to EWR focussed entirely on getting the cost benefit analysis that underpinned the Option E decision. We have still not received answers to several outstanding questions, but EWR are saying that they are working on them.

What Can I Do?

If you are interested / concerned about the impact of the new railway as it approaches Cambridge here are some things you can do.

  • Tell your local friends and neighbours about it
  • Contact your parish, district and county councillors and express your views. Given the above process, now is a good time.
  • Write to your MP – Anthony Browne and do the same
  • Comment on this website so others can see your view or email us at info@cambridgeapproaches.org, we will try to respond quickly.
  • ask questions directly to EWR on contact@eastwestrail.co.uk. So far we have seen a 3 month delay in getting answers.
  • subscribe to updates to this site so that we can see the level of interest.
  • Two questions 1) would you be interested in a facebook discussion group? 2) would you be interested in a public webinar to explain the alternative routes in more detail?
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FOI Response from East West Rail

See below the Response from EWR received at 7pm on 3th September exactly 20 working days after the relevant Cambridge Approaches Freedom of Information Request was sent. We are sad to report that EWR have not provided any substantive information on the grounds that it would be too much work to produce it. They also feel that it would not be in the public interest to disclose such information. Their letter, in full follows:

“Dear William Harrold, 

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION DATED 6 AUGUST 2020 

Thank you for writing to the team here at East West Rail with a request for information around our current proposals, received on 6 August 2020 (“Request“). We have handled your request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the “Act“) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (“EIR“). 

We are also aware of a further set of questions, some of which were discussed at online community events on 24 and 25 August. Thank you for the follow up email you sent after the events, which gave useful notes. As agreed, we will answer the letter in full separately. 

In relation to your Request, we’ve estimated that the cost of complying with it would exceed £450 which (under section 12 of the Act) is the limit above which public bodies are not obliged to provide information in response to requests. I have annexed the full text of this exemption for your information at the base of this letter. The full text of EIR regulation 12(4)(b) is also highlighted for your reference, which provides an exception for requests that are not reasonable (within the meaning of the EIR) such as those where significant or disproportionate costs would be incurred in handling them. 

The reason we can’t answer your requests within the cost limit is because of the significant volume of information requested. We would need to contact multiple officials and ask each of them to determine what relevant recorded information they hold, then to locate, retrieve and extract it. This work would certainly exceed 18 hours of staff time. 

We would also need to inspect every record manually in order to redact personal information and additional time would be required to separate environmental information from non- environmental information due to the mixed nature of your Request. This would entail a disproportionate and unreasonable burden in terms of costs and resources. 

Much of the information requested will be published in due course, but we believe that until the information is complete, it would be inappropriate and potentially misleading to publish it. For instance, survey results are likely to be reported as part of preliminary environmental information published as part of statutory consultation and a comprehensive environmental statement to accompany an application for a development consent order (“DCO“) under the Planning Act 2008. 

While we understand the general public interest in favour of disclosure of information, we consider that the public interest in this case lies in favour of not disclosing the information in response to your Request . 

Accordingly and for the reasons set out above, we are refusing your Request under section 12 of the Act and EIR regulation 12(4)(b). 

Your reference 

CS-00026063

Our reference 

TPA/TPA/396550/3 3 September 2020 

You are more than welcome to send us a new, more specific request, and we will consider if that can be dealt with reasonably and within the Act costs limit. You could for example significantly reduce the amount of information that you are seeking to a level that is not as resource intensive by specifying and limiting the particular geographical area that is of interest to you. 

If you are unhappy with the way EWR Co has handled your Request or with the decisions made in relation to your Request you may ask for an internal review within two calendar months of the date of this letter by writing to: 

fOIReview@eastwestrail.co.uk

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: 

Information Commissioner’s Office Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow 

Cheshire SK9 5AF 

Without prejudice to the comments above, we are keen to be as helpful as we can and have provided you with some additional information below in response to your Request that we hope will be useful. We hope these answers will help you to understand, to some degree, the extent of the work that would have been required in order to provide the information requested. 

1. Locations of all requested and executed surveys (structural, geotechnical, environmental, ecological, geological and otherwise in your leaflet entitled “What kind of surveys are happening at the moment?”) in and around the Option E area of the Central Section of the proposed Railway. Please redact any personal information like the names of the residents. Also the results so far of the surveys. 

You have asked for locations of all requested and executed surveys. This could mean: 

  1. Locations of all surveys requested and all surveys executed; 
  2. Locations of all surveys requested that have been completed. 

It is not clear from your Request which meaning was intended. 

We can confirm that we hold the results of the surveys that have been carried out to date in relation to the proposed new East West Rail line between Bedford and Cambridge. However, as we’ve explained above, the volume of information and the requirement for us to undertake significant redactions of personal information mean that EWR Co would need to incur excessive cost and resource to provide this information. 

In addition, the survey results represent only a part of an incomplete body of data. Again, we have taken the view that disclosure at this stage could be misleading. The data will be 

TPA/TPA/396550/3TPA/TPA/396550/3TPA/TPA/396550/3

UKM/104992728.8 Continuation 2 3 September 2020 

completed and published in due course – both during the statutory consultation on the Scheme in advance of an application for a DCO and through the DCO environmental statement. 

2. Documentation of the underlying route trajectory options being evaluated and which are behind the choice of environmental survey sites. We are told that there are no route trajectory options yet. If this is the case, please send the justification for a more blanket approach to these surveys and explain why the surveys we are aware of are all in a straight line from Little Eversden, Harlton, south of Haslingfield and Harston – see https://haslingfieldvillage.co.uk/2020/news/map-of-east-west-rail-environmental-survey- locations/ 

EWR Co refers to the next level of refinement in designing the proposed new line between Bedford and Cambridge as selecting a preferred “route alignment” (you will recall that we have already selected a preferred route corridor and a preferred route option). This is what we have taken your reference to “route trajectory options” to mean. 

We can confirm that a number of potential route alignments are under active consideration at this time, but no final route alignment options have been decided upon. EWR Co’s work in this regard is on-going and the identification, description and consideration of those alignments is not complete. 

With respect to the extent of the surveys that we are undertaking, these are spread across the preferred route option area as well as other land outwith but near to the preferred route option area. This is because in many cases we need to survey a larger area in order to obtain information about how the environmental features or species we are studying behave – this is not always limited to the preferred route option area. For example, bat colonies outside the area may still use it for commuting or foraging. 

TPA/TPA/396550/3TPA/TPA/396550/3TPA/TPA/396550/3

UKM/104992728.8 Continuation 3 3 September 2020 

page3image66369408
page3image66369216

We can confirm that EWR Co is or will be undertaking surveys beyond and in addition to the four areas listed in your Request. 

3. A copy of any communications between East West Rail and the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory or related organizations such as the Cavendish Astrophysics Group or the Institute of Astronomy or any organisation you are involved with discussion around planning constraints in relation to EWR and the Mullard Radio Observatory. 

We confirm that we hold correspondence between EWR Co and the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory and that discussions with the Observatory are on-going.
We’re not clear what you mean by “related organizations [sic]” and whether you are referring to: 

  • .  Planning constraints in relation to the proposed East West Rail project in general and planning constraints in relation to the Observatory; or 
  • .  Only those planning constraints in relation to the proposed East West Rail project that pertain to the Observatory. 

If you would kindly clarify the scope of your request this would enable us to confirm whether we hold the relevant information. 

i ii 

4. Communication between EWR Rail and landowners in the option E area. 

We can confirm that we hold this information. The scope of your request is extremely broad and the costs of providing copies of every item of correspondence would be disproportionate and excessive. EWR Co would also be required to redact significant quantities of personal data manually. 

We enclose a copy of the template letters that have been sent to landowners within the preferred route option area accompanying our requests to agree licence access for surveys and hope that this is of assistance. 

If there are particular landowners that are of interest then please let us know – this may enable us to provide more focussed information in response. 

5. Any documentation or communications held about the Eversden and Wimpole Woods is a SAC (European designation – Special Area of Conservation) for Barbastelles bats. 

We can confirm that we hold information relating to the identified SAC. Much of this information on SACs is already in the public domain and available to you. For example, you can use the interactive mapping feature at https://magic.defra.gov.uk/MagicMap.aspx to obtain information on a particular SAC. 

If there is particular information that is of interest then please provide clarification so that we may confirm whether we hold it. 

6. Any documentation or communications on environmental, archaeological or historical constraints in the Option E area. 

We can confirm that we hold information relating to environmental and archaeological constraints in the preferred route option area. 

It is not clear whether your reference to “historical constraints” means heritage constraints (such as listed buildings, scheduled ancient monuments and so on) or historic constraints that are no longer in force or have been superseded. Please confirm which you mean so that we may confirm whether we hold the information in which you are interested. 

Information on environmental constraints is also available to you already at the following website: https://magic.defra.gov.uk/MagicMap.aspx. Details of historical and archaeological assets are also available from the local planning authority and from Historic England. 

7. A log of previous FOI requests and their contents (We already aware of 5 FOI requests from CamBedRailRoad) 

We can confirm that we maintain a log of requests made under the Act and the EIR. 

However, extracting the relevant information and redacting personal information would require a significant amount of manual processing and would entail disproportionate and unreasonable costs. 

Thank you for your continued interest in East West Rail, and we look forward to continuing to work together with local groups and community representatives as the project progresses. 

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UKM/104992728.8 Continuation 4 3 September 2020 

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If you have any questions about this response, please send them for my attention through the contact@eastwestrail.co.uk email. 

Yours Sincerely 

Roland George 

Company Secretary, East West Railway Company 

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UKM/104992728.8 Continuation 5 3 September 2020 

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Freedom of Information Act 2000 

LEGISLATIVE EXTRACTS 

12. — (1) Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit.
(2) Subsection (1) does not exempt the public authority from its obligation to comply with paragraph (a) of section 1(1) unless the estimated cost of complying with that paragraph alone would exceed the appropriate limit. 

(3) In subsections (1) and (2) “the appropriate limit” means such amount as may be prescribed, and different amounts may be prescribed in relation to different cases.[*]
(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide that, in such circumstances as may be prescribed, where two or more requests for information are made to a public authority-
(a) by one person, or
(b) by different persons who appear to the public authority to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign,
the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is to be taken to be the estimated total cost of complying with all of them. 

[*] The relevant Regulations which define the appropriate limit for section 12 purposes are The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulation 2004 SI 2004 No 3244. 

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 SI 2004 No 3391 

12(4) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that –
(b) the request for information is manifestly unreasonable 

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UKM/104992728.8 Continuation 6 3 September 2020 “

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Categories
news

Let’s Restart the Conversation

Sunset over the River Cam (Photo: Doug Thompson)

This post has been updated (19/10/2020) to include the details of the questions and answers from this session in spreadsheet form. The spreadsheet below shows the questions asked by the CA working group and representatives from parishes in the area (CA oversight group). We show the “substantive” answers the the EWR team sent us by email a few weeks after the event, but also the answers we received to some of the questions from careful notes taken during the meeting. There are some interesting differences, for example on question 14 the verbal answer given in the meeting is much more reassuring than the “substantive” answer after the meeting which completely removes the commitment to restore access to roads and rights of way cut by the railway – what are we to think?

East West Rail reached out to local villages in the Option E search area this week in an effort to re-engage with the parish councils with a video conference for Western Villages on Monday and with Eastern ones on Tuesday (24th and 25th August 2020 respectively). In both cases, after an initial presentation from EWR, the time was given over to Q&A and a discussion of how to work together.

Supported by Harston parish council, in the Tuesday session, Cambridge Approaches’ David Revell was given time to ask several questions. The main speakers from EWR in the Q&A session were Will Gallagher, strategy and Ian Parker, who is responsible for the design and implementation of the railway.

The main points we noted were as follows:

  1. EWR is willing to work with Cambridge Approaches – EWR want to propose how, regular meeting were suggested on our side.
  2. The alignment options inside the Option E search area, planned to be publicised by EWR in January 2021, will allow residents to see how close their houses might beto each option. They will just show the centre line of the alignment option with some indication of the engineering works involved.
  3. EWR confirmed that they are looking at an alignment option involving a cutting south of Haslingfield and pointing out that cuttings create an opportunity to mitigate the effects of noise. The visual impact of such a cutting was raised, but the conservation did not conclude on that point.
  4. Ian Parker said it was very unlikely that a tunnel would be part of the solution. The topography does not warrant it and the cost would be a consideration.
  5. EWR conversations with the MRAO are ongoing. Main issues are obstruction of line of sight of a telescope when pointing at 90 degrees and vibration effects from the railway. Given this is one or a small number of telescopes and the agreement might have a profound effect on the route alignment we asked if there had been any discussion of moving the telescopes. David Revell said that the balance is between the quality of life of around 20,000 residents every hour of every day for the life of the railway and the use of a telescope under limit case conditions. EWR said it had been treated as a constraint, but maybe they should consider that.
  6. Option E was the most expensive option in the Q1 2019 consultation – so why was it selected? EWR said that the costings had “matured” and that Option E had the best business case at the time of the decision which was endorsed by the Secretary of State (for transport i.e. Grant Shapps). We have asked for a copy of the business plan at the time of sign off.
  7. EWR are looking at routes crossing the Cambridge to King’s Cross line, because they see benefits in service level from doing so.
  8. It is almost certain that the route from Shepreth Junction into Cambridge will require an additional two tracks to the existing two tracks. If the EWR railway joins further south than that then they are looking at whether to increase the number of tracks.
  9. The EWR is unlikely to directly affect the Foxton level crossing.
  10. EWR have an obligation to maintain access on roads and rights of way that are crossed by the new railway. They are not keen to introduce new level crossing because of national policy on that.
  11. EWR will perform baseline environmental noise measurements, but this has not yet been done.
  12. The Option E decision is the preferred route option endorsed by the Secretary of State for Transport. EWR will continue to back-check the business case in the light of new information and will review the decision if something changes.
  13. EWR confirmed that there are alignment options in the area between the two mainlines (Little Shelford area).
  14. EWR explained the criteria for assessment, Ian Parker talked about 5 parts: Economic, strategic, finances/cost to build and the way it will be built (also called the management case. For the economics they compare cost of construction and operation with the benefits. EWR have been talking to the Department of Communities and Local Government about the potential for (housing) development in the area. They have taken account of plans to develop new settlements in the area and expanding existing settlements; we do take some credence of that in planning the route; it’s important that as many people as possible are able to use the service when it is delivered.
  15. The internal plan in EWR is to be ready for the second consultation in mid-January 2021. However, if the COVID situation at that time still prevents face to face consultation meetings, then it might be delayed for that reason. The Planning Application (DCO) is likely to be made in the middle of 2022, but they are looking at accelerate that so as to minimise the time of uncertainty.
  16. Although Cambridge Approaches were not present, we heard that on the Monday session EWR proposed that the last station to the west before Cambridge south would be south of Cambourne towards Caxton. Several speakers said they wanted it to the north of Cambourne.