8.05.2024 /

Community events: In case you can't make it

Should you be unable to make it to one of our latest Community Conversation events in person, we want to make sure you can still access the information we'll be sharing. Below you'll find some useful details that we're discussing with people at this round of events. If you have any questions, please reach out to our team via [email protected]

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About these events

These information-only events are an opportunity to talk with you about how the Development Consent Order (DCO) process works and how you can get involved. They're an additional step we're carrying out to enhance how we engage with communities, and will present our updated proposals for the Project at the first stage of statutory consultation this summer.

More information on the dates and locations of events can be found by clicking 'Events' below.

Events

    East West Rail (EWR) is nationally significant project, and we therefore need to apply to the Secretary of State for a Development Consent Order (DCO) under the Planning Act (2008) to get permission to construct and operate the railway. A DCO is a piece of law that, if granted, would give authority to EWR to build the new railway and for it to be operated. The DCO process is for major projects, so it would grant consent for the entire Project, combining multiple approvals into one document.

    Before we can start building the final section of EWR – which involves a new railway between Bedford and Cambridge and associated works to the existing railway between Oxford and Bedford – we need to plan to make sure we introduce the right kind of railway. This includes the route of the railway and the station locations plus other considerations like environment, traffic and transport. Decisions on the Project are not taken lightly and there are many checks and reviews of the design before the railway can be built. Ultimately, the final plans need to be approved by the Secretary of State for Transport.

    The DCO process has defined stages and differing requirements for each stage. We’re currently in the pre-application stage, where we focus on developing the design and gathering feedback through stakeholder engagement and statutory consultation. As part of the pre-application stage, we plan to host two stages of statutory consultation to gather feedback on our latest design. The feedback received will help us refine the design and improve our DCO application. Our Consultation Report, which will be publicly available and submitted as part of the DCO application, will detail how we have taken feedback into account and where issues raised have resulted in changes to the design. We are aiming to submit our DCO application in 2026.

    DCO timeline

    A statutory consultation is a legally required process where we offer communities the opportunity to review and comment on detailed EWR proposals before we apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO). This differs from the non-statutory consultations we held in 2019 and 2021 as statutory consultation has legal requirements that must be met. For example, minimum time periods for consultation and issuing statutory notices prior to consultation.

    During the statutory consultation process we'll consider all feedback given to us about our proposals. We will set out how our proposals have been informed and influenced by feedback in a Consultation Report which will be submitted with our DCO application.

    We plan to hold two stages of statutory consultation. The first is due to commence in summer 2024 and the second is proposed for 2025. A two-stage statutory consultation will:
    * Help communities and stakeholders better understand our plans.
    * Increase opportunities for people to share their views and feedback on our proposals.
    * Help us develop a better solution, informed by the communities EWR would serve.

    We plan to hold two stages of statutory consultation. The first is due to start this summer. At the first stage of statutory consultation, we'll present an update on the evolution of our proposals and identify any areas where we're considering options. We'll take all feedback into account as we develop the designs in more detail and select preferred options.

    At the first stage of statutory consultation we will provide:

    * A Consultation Document providing an overview of our proposals and the benefits they will bring. The Consultation Document will also explain how people can submit feedback to us.
    * An Environmental Update Report which contains preliminary information about the potential e ects of our proposals.
    * A Transport Update Report which contains an initial qualitative assessment of the potential impacts of our proposals on the road network, making use of available information. The report also sets out a preliminary strategy for mitigating those impacts.
    * A Technical Report setting out more detailed information on our proposals for each section of the route of the Project and how they have been developed.
    * Maps and plans detailing the Project proposals.
    * Factsheets on specific areas of interest.
    * A feedback form, which will be available online and on paper.

    After the first stage of statutory consultation, we will analyse and consider all consultation responses. The feedback received will help us to develop a single proposal for the entire route and this will be presented during the second stage of statutory consultation.

    This summer, we’ll hold the first stage of our statutory consultation and will be seeking the views of local communities along the route. The consultation is open to anyone who wishes to take part. Before launching the first stage of the statutory consultation, we will have developed a Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC). The SoCC sets out how local communities will be consulted on the process and will provide an overview of the two-stage approach to the statutory consultation.

    We’ll actively publicise both stages of the statutory consultation using a variety of methods, for example local newspaper advertising, posters and leaflet drops. This will be in line with the SoCC agreed with local authorities across the route.

    The main ways to get involved will include:

    * Access the consultation material – Consultation material will be available online, and hard copies of the material will be available at information points and the consultation events for people to view and learn more about the Project.
    * Attend the consultation events – Across the two stages of statutory consultation, we will hold a variety of in-person and online events. Members of the team will be available at these events to discuss your views and to answer any questions you have around the proposals.
    * Send us your feedback – A feedback form will be available for people to provide their comments and views on the Project proposals. People will be able to provide feedback via email, post or at public information events. 

    As we develop our proposals, we need to access land along the route so we can carry out surveys. We'll also need to acquire land to carry out construction and operate the railway. We’re currently carrying out surveys across the route and have been surveying in a wider area than we’ll eventually need for the Project. We will be presenting updated proposals at statutory consultation which will identify what land and property we expect would be needed to build EWR. As we have developed our proposals, we have been in touch with people whose land and property may be affected, to make sure we answer any questions they have about the process and talk with them about the next steps.

    Following our Route Update Announcement, we launched the Need to Sell Property Scheme to support eligible property owners who have a compelling reason to sell their property but are unable to do so, other than at a substantially reduced value, due to the East West Rail Project. If your application is accepted, you can begin the valuation process. EWR Co will agree to buy your property at its unblighted market value.

    If you’ve received a letter from us informing you that your land or property may ultimately be affected or have any questions, please speak to one of our Land & Property specialists.

    If you want to speak to us specifically about the Need to Sell Property Scheme, please contact the team by phone on 0330 838 7583 or email us at [email protected]