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Ecology

EWR Ecological Survey Experience June 2020

A concerned local resident (Photo: Doug Thompson)

A resident in the Option E search area who I will call Jane, recently had her garden surveyed by people from East West Rail. We understand from talking to Ardent, that the surveys were performed by the Engineering company Arup on behalf of EWR. Jane is an ecologist by profession and so is well placed to comment for us at Cambridge Approaches. She sets out her experience below.

“Our garden was surveyed in the summer to inform the EWR route alignment.  The pair of surveyors recorded the surrounds of our property.  I asked them what they’d discovered from the desk studies that should have been undertaken prior to detailed ecological surveys. They did not know of any desk studies, or had not been made aware of the findings of any such studies.  They did not know when, or if, they would be surveying neighbouring gardens or fields.  

Following this, I emailed EWR to ask for clarification on the ecology surveys. 

Specifically, I asked: 

Q: Have ecological desk studies been undertaken? If not, why not? 

Q. How can a comprehensive understanding of the ecology of an area be gained from discrete, isolated (in time and spatially) surveys? For example, we know that badgers forage in our garden.  This may not be immediately apparent from one brief survey (though we did tell the surveyors).  How will you identify the badger setts in the surrounding area if you a) don’t carry out desk studies to find out what local records exist, and b) if you don’t survey the fields where the setts are found? 

Q. Could you please outline the broad areas over which ecological surveys are taking place?  i.e. could you confirm that ecological surveys are being carried out across the whole swathe of the outlined area, not just the narrow band to the south of the outlined area. 

Q. What stage of the environmental assessment process is the project at? Scoping? Screening? 

I sent my queries by email on 29 June and 10 July, and again on 12 August. I have not, to date, received answers. 

Given that the planned public consultation on this project did not take place, the lack of communication from the EWR project is extremely disappointing. 

In EWR’s own words, they will  “work hard to earn the trust of anyone who might be impacted by the railway by being transparent and clear at every stage” (quote from “Connecting Communities: The Preferred Route Option between Bedford and Cambridge”.   This has yet to be demonstrated.”

It seems that from Jane’s experience that there are questions to be answered about the value of the ecological surveys being performed by East West Rail. These surveys are all paid for with hard-earned tax-payers money. Will they actually provide accurate information to guide the routing and necessary mitigations for the railway. Jane clearly has her doubts. It is also disappointing that EWR have not responded to her.

Categories
news

FOI Request Sent to EWR

Resident searching for free information (Photo : Doug Thompson)

The East West Rail Company is publicly funded and as such part of its accountability to the tax payer is to respond to freedom of information requests. We sent an FOI on the 6th August covering the following areas:


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.


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/


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


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


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


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


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

We expect to get a response in 20 days so 26th August. If we get anything interesting we will publish it on this web site.

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news

Formation of the Cambridge Approaches Group

The ISS Flies over The Bakehouse in Well-house Meadow

After the decision by East West Rail (EWR) to focus their attention on option E for the central section of their new railway, it became clear that awareness of the issue was very low in the affected area. The planned consultation meetings from EWR never happened and are still not scheduled. Some residents became aware of the issue when they were approached by EWR’s agent Ardent and asked for access to their property, so that surveys could be performed.

This group was formed after a meeting on 15th July 2020 between representatives of parish councils in the affected area from Toft to the Shelfords and the intention is to generate our own options for the possible routes of the railway and to discuss these with the community and the powers that be. The hope if to get a more open dialogue and a better outcome for all concerned.