2023 was a productive year for East West Rail (EWR). In May, we shared the Route Update Announcement and in December, track laying between Bicester and Bletchley/Milton Keynes reached 99% completion. These significant milestones bring the benefits of EWR one step closer for local communities – enabling better access to jobs, education and healthcare while making it easier to see family, and friends, and travel for leisure.
We’re continuing to develop our proposals, having carefully reviewed feedback from various sources such as the two non-statutory consultations, Local Representatives Groups, and community drop-in events. To further improve the development of EWR, we’ll be launching in the first half of this year, the first stage of our two-stage statutory consultation on the proposals for EWR.
A two-stage statutory consultation will maximise the opportunities for our communities to influence the proposals during the development stage of the design process. This approach will help us develop a better solution, more fully informed by the people living and working in the communities EWR will serve.
EWR consultation programme
During the first stage of the consultation, we will share our updated proposals, as well as updated information on design areas. We will also provide an overview of potential environmental impacts and mitigations. Building upon the work we’ve completed to date, our proposals will be presented in more detail than in previous rounds of non-statutory consultations and will again seek feedback from the public.
We will then analyse and consider all consultation responses to finalise a single proposal for the entire route, which will be presented in the second stage of the statutory consultation, before the submission of our Development Consent Order (DCO) application.
For more information on the DCO process, of which consultations are a part, you can read our DCO factsheet here.
Before we launch the first stage of the statutory consultation, we’ll develop a Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC). This document 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. As part of the requirements of the SoCC, we’ll consult local authorities across the route on the draft SoCC to ensure that our plans meet the needs of the communities along the route by enabling as many people as possible to share their views with us during both stages of the statutory consultation.
In advance of the consultation this year, we will share another update which confirms the consultation dates, information about what we’re asking for feedback on, as well as how you can get involved.
If you have any questions, you can get in touch by emailing [email protected].
Your questions answered
Holding two stages of statutory consultation enables us to develop a scheme that is more fully informed by key stakeholders and the local community as well as being better understood. This will help us to be confident that our final submission to government to build the railway - the DCO application - reflects a comprehensive understanding and consideration of the needs, concerns and suggestions of all stakeholders involved.
In the first stage of the statutory consultation, we will be able to share updated information, notably on areas of design presented at our Route Update Announcement in May 2023. Our proposals will be presented in more detail than previous rounds of consultation, and we will seek feedback from statutory consultees and the public on areas where options remain. We will also provide an initial overview of potential environmental impacts and how they could be mitigated.
Following analysis and consideration of feedback received in the first stage, the second stage of statutory consultation will present a single proposal for the entire route. We will also share more detailed information on potential likely environmental effects and their proposed mitigation.
The first stage of the statutory consultation is scheduled for the first half of 2024. We’ll be able to share more information about this with stakeholders and local communities in due course.
The feedback received during the two-stage statutory consultation will help us refine the design and improve our submission to government to build the railway. After each stage of the statutory consultation, we will analyse all the responses received and consider every matter raised in the feedback, in accordance with planning laws. Our Consultation Report, which will be publicly available and submitted as part of the Development Consent Order application, will detail how we have taken feedback into account and where issues raised have resulted in changes to the design.
A SoCC is a document that sets out how local communities will be consulted during the two-stages of statutory consultation. It is required under the Planning Act 2008 and will include details on how and when community involvement will take place, and who will be consulted. We’ll publish the SoCC on our website in advance of the first phase of statutory consultation, so you can see how we will consult.
We’ll actively publicise both phases of the statutory consultation using a variety of methods, for example local newspaper advertising, posters, social media and leaflet drops.