Rather than providing a standard template letter for sending to our MP Anthony Browne, we suggest that you write individual letters to him that express your concern. MPs and their researchers have found that an original letter sent by a committed, passionate constituent is far more powerful than a pile of identical letters.
We have provided a list of topics below that you may wish to consider in writing your letter. We do not suggest that you include more than a few of them and only those that you feel strongly about. Your own words would be much more influential than using ours.
If you wish to obtain more information about any of the topics, please contact us and we will try to help.
PROBLEMS WITH OPTION E
Option E is the wrong solution – all feasible alternative alignments have significant problems.
There are no clear benefits to the Option E area, just the real long-term threat of creeping urbanisation along the line
Use of diesel locomotives rather than electrification from the outset – noisy and environmentally damaging option when the government has committed to reducing UK’s carbon footprint. It is also massively more expensive to upgrade later than incorporating during the construction phase
Permanent loss of peaceful and beautiful countryside, especially if cuttings are used in some areas
Noise, especially from freight trains at night. This is likely to travel long distances from railway lines on embankments over flat and open countryside
Possible closure of roads and footpaths – this could have a devastating effect on the area by dividing communities. While EWR have provided verbal assurance that closure of public rights of way and roads would be a “last resort”, they have not confirmed this in writing despite specially being asked to do so
EWR’s poor business case for Option E, including new housing development and freight not being included – see blogs on Cambridge Approaches website. Option not demonstrably better than the alternatives – e.g. into Cambridge North rather than a planned Cambridge South station
Adopting a Cambourne North station rather than current Cambourne South. This view is strongly supported by Cambourne Parish Council as it is more convenient for the current and planned location of housing
No explanation of how much freight is planned on this line and how it gets to Felixstowe – there may well be further upgrades of existing lines or new lines near Cambridge in addition to those in the Option E area
EWR’s lack of transparency. All of Cambridge Approaches Freedom of Information requests have been rejected on the last day of the statutory consultation periods, partly for apparently pedantic reasons. The last FOI request was written with legal advice. Insufficient information has been provided to justify their business case.
Lack of coordination of the route with the Local Plan. This is fundamental to have an effective, cost-efficient and joined-up transportation system in the region that serves areas where there is greatest demand. This is demonstrably not the case for a route in the Option E area – the route to Cambridge North best serves existing and planned housing developments.
Low level publicity about the project. Many residents of the area have told Cambridge Approaches that they were totally unaware of the project before we distributed leaflets a few weeks ago, despite EWR holding a public consultation in early 2019.
Impact on farming – the railway line may disrupt farming in the area not only by losing increasingly valuable farmland but severing farm tracks and causing extra pollution by requiring farm vehicles to travel increased distances to access their land. There are several environmentally sensitive farms in the area, especially near Barton, that may be severely affected by the project.
Impact on ecology, including cutting of foraging routes and possibly disrupting the life of the rare Barbestelle bats in the Wimpole and Eversden Woods.
Impact on MRAO activities. These impacts may be able to be mitigated depending on the proximity of the railway to active telescopes. You may think that disruption to MRAO’s activities is better than potentially running the line close to villages. Alternatively, you may believe that MRAO’s presence in the area has limited much development that would have otherwise occurred. As a compromise, it may be possible that MRAO could move their telescopes, as they did several years ago, to a less sensitive part of their site.
Greater use of tunnelling in difficult areas that would otherwise cause severe environmental damage
REQUESTED ACTIONS BY ANTHONY BROWNE
Call for Anthony Browne to lobby government and EWR:
to reject Option E
to investigate options that follow existing or planned transport corridors (e.g. A428 & M11) in accordance with the National Infrastructure Commission report (Partnering for Prosperity: A new deal for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc). These should include a route to Cambridge North rather than Cambridge South
to consider the environment to a greater extent than EWR are doing already, especially in their choice of whether to adopt an electrified line at the outset
to provide the public with clear and unambiguous information to back up their decisions, especially in terms of value-for-money of various alignment options and in fulfilling their environmental pledges.
Richard Saunders from Cambridge University Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (MRAO) spoke to David Revell from Cambridge Approaches on August 31 about discussions taking place between EWR and the MRAO. Richard said that the discussions were at a very early stage and were intended to help each side understand the other’s technical constraints and issues: they were definitely not at the ‘negotiating’ stage.
Richard mentioned that issues included the electro-magnetic interference from the side-to-side movement of the trains.
Line of sight issues (for example, depending on where a telescope may be pointing) are difficult to mitigate against. EWR had said that locally lowering the track would not be feasible due to the high water table and Richard said that raising the telescopes was not possible either. He said that the geographic bowl in which the telescopes sit is pretty unique in the UK and that electrical simulation tests would have to be undertaken to fully understand the impacts.
The extreme sensitivity of the MRAO equipment to vibration dictates that any mitigation against vibration of the telescopes from the trains would have to be exceptionally effective.
EWR were understood not to be totally averse to moving outside the Option E area if essential, or of providing tunnels per se but drainage of the tunnels would need an alternative to a pumped solution.
Richard was conscious of the need to minimise the environmental impact on the area by the railway, including noise, visual and ecological impacts.
EWR are assessing new route from a Cambourne North station
The Cambridge Approaches Working Group have recently had two meetings with EWR, the second of which was attended by local MP Anthony Browne. At the first meeting EWR confirmed that they are investigating the feasibility and merits of a route from a possible Cambourne station to the north of the town rather than one close to Caxton, south of Cambourne. At the second meeting EWR said that they would consult on such a route and that the additional transit time compared to option E routes was around 2 minutes.
The Cambridge Approaches Working Group have sketched a possible route – see below – which we will share with EWR.
Figure 1 Alternative Route 6 Cambourne North to Cambridge South
It would follow a line to the north of the A428, away from the current residential areas to reduce the noise impact. Just to the east of Hardwick it would pass under the A428, under Long Road and cross the A603 via a bridge near the Barton rifle range. It would then arc to the north of Hauxton and cross the A1301 in Great Shelford and connect to the existing line into the planned Cambridge South station.
Not only does this route provide a station closer to existing and planned houses in Cambourne, it significantly reduces the impacts compared to the other routes sketched out by Cambridge Approaches. It would minimise the demolition of houses, have lower noise impact on the area’s residents and expected to have a lower ecological impact. The station in north Cambourne is emphatically backed by Cambourne Parish Council.
This route is called alternative route 6 and is being considered by the Cambridge Approaches Oversight Group consisiting of Parish Councils from Toft to The Shelfords.
These are possible route alignment alternatives developed by Cambridge Approaches for discussion and comments. These options are under review by local parish councils forming the Cambridge Approaches Oversight Group at a series of meetings including the Cambridge Approaches Working Group.
EWR’s options, which they intend to issue in January 2021, may differ from those shown.