Putting the environment at the heart of everything we do

As one of the UK’s largest proposed railway projects we acknowledge the profound obligation we have to address the environmental challenges faced by all of us.

Caring for the environment is therefore at the heart of everything we do.

And to help put these ambitions into action, we’ve set ambitious environmental goals for the Project that align with domestic and global climate priorities, including the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. You can read more about these below. 

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What are the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

The United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are our world’s call to action on the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing humanity and the natural world.

They recognise that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests. In practice, they are designed to be a ‘blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all’.

Recognising this and to underline our approach to the environment, we have aligned our nine environmental principles with ten of the UN SDGs.

Download our UNSDG Fact Sheet.

 

 

 

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How are we living up to the goals?

    What does this principle mean?

    Building and operating East West Rail so we don’t damage the important environmental and heritage sites in your local area.

     

    How are we delivering on it? 

    We are:

    • Mapping locations of protected and designated sites to inform proposals  
    • Avoiding directly impacting important environmental and heritage sites in the area, where we reasonably can  
    • Surveying protected species to avoid and protect their habitats and identifying mitigation and compensation where necessary 
    • Undertaking detailed ecological surveys (delivered by EWR Co and the EWR Alliance) - with over 12,000 since 2018 

     

    Which UN Sustainable Development Goals does this align with? 

    • 3 - Good health and wellbeing
    • 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
    • 15 - Life on land
    • 17 - Partnerships for the goals

     

    What does this principle mean?

    Delivering biodiversity net gain by approaching development so biodiversity is left in a better state than we found it. 

     

    How are we delivering on it? 

    We are:

    • Finding ways to avoid and enhance habitats in our planning where we reasonably can 
    • Creating new habitats during construction of the section between Bicester and Bletchley, including:

      • Constructing 27 badger setts that have all been occupied by badgers, with 22% used for breeding
      • Building a bat house which is being used by roosting bats
      • Feeding and commuting bats, representing at least seven different species, are using our compensation sites
      • Creating ponds for great crested newts, all of which have confirmed presence of newts
      • Building two artificial otter holts, one of which is being regularly used by otters
      • 100% of the 27 artificial badger setts constructed have been occupied by badgers and 22% have already been used for breeding.   
      • Our purpose- built bat house is already been  being used by roosting bats 
      • Our compensation sites are used by at least seven species for bats for commuting and feeding
      • 100% of our ponds created for great crested newts (GCNs) have had confirmed presence of GCNs 
      • One of our two artificial otter holts is being regular used by otters
    • Similar initiatives to the above will take place between Bletchley and Cambridge, pending government approval to construct 

     

    Which UN Sustainable Development Goals does this align with? 

    • 15 - Life on land
    • 17 - Partnerships for the goals

    What does this principle mean?

    Protecting your historic environment through preserving and enhancing your heritage assets. 

     

    How are we delivering on it? 

    We are carefully planning to avoid the most important heritage and environmental sites, where we reasonably can.

     

    Which UN Sustainable Development Goals does this align with? 

    • 3 - Good health and wellbeing
    • 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
    • 17 - Partnerships for the goals

     

    What does this principle mean?

    Protecting soil resources and agriculturally important land. 

     

    How are we delivering on it? 

    We are:

    • Assessing the environmental impacts on important areas like farmland 
    • Avoiding the highest-grade agricultural land where we reasonably can 
    • Exploring ways to reduce the impact of the railway on agricultural practices and soil resources  
    • Liaising with landowners to inform the design process 

    We also plan to:

    • Mitigate impact through water storage (flood management) and retention ponds 
    • Avoid pollution through groundwater and surface water management 

     

    Which UN Sustainable Development Goals does this align with? 

    • 15 - Life on land
    • 17 - Partnerships for the goals

     

    What does this principle mean?

    Enhancing the quality of landscapes and townscapes and considering how what we build can be designed to blend in with your local environment.

     

    How are we delivering on it? 

    We’re carefully considering how what we build can be designed to blend in with your local environment, and there are a number of ways we can look to do this. For example, by utilising landscape earthworks to soften the appearance of embankments and integrate it into the wider landscape context or by using sensitive placement of appropriate planting to either screen views from sensitive receptors, or to soften the appearance and presence of engineering earthworks.

     

    Which UN Sustainable Development Goals does this align with? 

    • 3 - Good health and wellbeing
    • 10 - Reduced inequalities
    • 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
    • 15 - Life on land
    • 17 - Partnerships for the goals

     

    What does this principle mean?

    Effectively managing and controlling noise vibration and pollution to avoid affecting your health or quality of life.

     

    How are we delivering on it? 

    We are:

    • Working closely with communities and their representatives to keep them informed about the project
    • Developing a Code of Construction Practice for the Project, which will explain the steps we will take to eliminate, minimise or mitigate disruption to local people, communities and the environment. 
    • Facilitating enhanced infrastructure for local communities including new and upgraded footpaths, cycle paths and bridleways 

     

    Which UN Sustainable Development Goals does this align with? 

    • 3 - Good health and wellbeing
    • 8 - Decent work and economic growth
    • 10 - Reduced inequalities 
    • 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
    • 17 - Partnerships for the goals

     

    What does this principle mean?

    Sustainably sourcing what we need and reducing our waste to get the maximum use out of everything we buy.

     

    How are we delivering on it? 

    We are:

    • Using circular economy principles throughout planning and construction 
    • Addressing the sustainability of construction products and processes to preserve resources and minimise impact 
    • Promoting the durability and adaptability of built assets 
    • Integrating lifecycle assessments into our procurement and financing framework 
    • Developing Site Waste Management Plans to efficiently manage materials and waste and set SMART targets 

     

    Which UN Sustainable Development Goals does this align with? 

    • 9 - Industry, innovation and infrastructure
    • 12 - Responsible consumption and production
    • 13 - Climate action
    • 17 - Partnerships for the goals

     

    What does this principle mean?

    Working carefully to make sure your water sources are protected, and that we don’t cause any increase in flooding through our construction or operations.

     

    How are we delivering on it? 

    • Throughout the project we’ll carry out flood risk assessments to help inform the design process

     

    Which UN Sustainable Development Goals does this align with? 

    • 7 - Affordable and clean energy
    • 9 - Industry, innovation and infrastructure
    • 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
    • 17 - Partnerships for the goals

     

    What does this principle mean?

    Designing, constructing and operating in a way that helps us to be a net zero carbon railway

     

    How are we delivering on it? 

    • Our Net Zero Carbon vision covers the whole life cycle of the railway – from conception to future operation 
    • Work is underway to define our Net Zero Carbon target & and our trajectory to achieve Net Zero Carbon

     

    Which UN Sustainable Development Goals does this align with? 

    • 7 - Good health and wellbeing
    • 9 - Industry, innovation and infrastructure
    • 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
    • 13 - Climate action
    • 17 - Partnerships for the goals

     

Key Documents

  • Document
  • Fact Sheet: EWR Environmental Principles & the UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • Fact Sheet: Our Approach to the Environment
  • Fact Sheet: East West Rail and Barbastelle Bats
  • Fact Sheet: Our Approach to Mitigating Noise

Simon Blanchflower CBE

CEO - East West Railway Company

East West Rail will be a new, environmentally sustainable way to travel between Oxford and Cambridge and I’m proud of the strides we’re making to live up to our environmental principles, which include commitments to achieve biodiversity net gain, deliver a net zero carbon railway and protect important species and habitats between Oxford and Cambridge.