Local baseline mapping data also published today
New environmental surveys are being initiated by East West Railway Company (EWR Co) to help inform planning and design work for the East West Rail line connecting Cambridge, Bedford, Milton Keynes and Oxford. EWR Co has written to over 600 landowners in and around the area, to ask for access to their land in order to help understand local environmental conditions.
The surveys – which will be carried out throughout 2021 - will gather data on plant and animal life, environmental features like rivers and streams, and historical features. This activity is part of EWR Co’s continued commitment to put environmental considerations at the heart of proposals for the new East West Rail connection. The timing of the surveys is key as certain species can only be monitored at specific times of year.
The East West Railway Company has also taken the unusual step this week, of publishing an expansive set of initial baseline maps in a new interactive feature on the East West Rail Community Hub.
These maps have been developed using open-source data from national and local government agencies such as the Environment Agency, Natural England and Local Authorities as well as from sources such as the Woodland Trust and outline some of the complex factors which the EWR Co team has been taking into consideration as they progress early designs for East West Rail. EWR Co believes this is the first time such data has been shared by an infrastructure project in this way.
The initial baseline maps have been released ahead of a non-statutory public consultation planned for early 2021, when EWR Co will again ask people for their views on the railway. Together, the environmental surveying and the feedback from the consultation, combined with other data and research, will help EWR Co to develop potential designs for this critical rail connection in a way which protects and supports the local environment.
Ian Parker, Programme Delivery Director said:
“Most of these digital maps are only available to organisations with the resources and technical tools to read them. However, we’d like to make sure that local communities have access to the same baseline data as the team here. We hope that taking the unusual step of publishing this data will help strengthen conversations with residents and their representatives – who have been incredibly generous with their time and expertise throughout the process.
“We are grateful to landowners and their representatives – including the National Farmers’ Union – for allowing us to gather the new surveying data and help create the right connections for their communities and the local environment.”
Following the planned consultation in early 2021, there will be further opportunities for members of the public to have their say in the design of East West Rail – once through a formal public consultation and finally when the plans are submitted to the Planning Inspectorate.
The data from the new environmental surveys will underpin an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which will be published when EWR Co submits plans – expected to be in 2022.
Notes to editors
Landowners who would like to talk to the EWR Co team can get in touch in the following ways:
Email us at: [email protected]
Call us on: 03308387583
Send us an online message
Write to us at: Freepost EAST WEST RAIL LAND
Eleven land surveys
Surveys being carried out include:
East West Rail initial baseline maps
The interactive initial baseline maps have been developed using open-source data from national and local government agencies such as the Environment Agency, Natural England and Local Authorities as well as from sources such as the Woodland Trust. The maps are available on the East West Rail Community Hub here.
About the East West Rail project
East West Rail will create a new direct connection between Oxford and Cambridge. Serving communities across the area, it will bring faster journey times and lower transport costs as well as easing pressure on local roads.
Network Rail was responsible for developing the first stage in this project, connecting Oxford with Bicester, and is a partner in a construction alliance to develop the second stage of the route, where East West Railway Company (EWR Co) is acting as the Department for Transport’s sponsor.
EWR Co is now developing the route to enable services to run to Cambridge via Bedford and will be seeking statutory powers under the Planning Act 2008, following a period of extensive consultation.
About East West Railway Company
East West Railway Company (EWR Co) was set up by the Secretary of State for Transport in 2018 to develop East West Rail, a railway with customers and communities at its core.
We have a mission to innovate and challenge the status-quo in the rail and construction industries, leading to a more efficient and cost-effective project delivery, and a great experience for passengers and the communities we serve.
Our distinctive outlook and commitment to doing the right thing for our customers and local communities runs through everything we do and every decision we make.