News release from 28/09/2018
Councillors have called on the Government and promoters of a railway line linking Cambridge to Oxford to ensure the environment is given full and through consideration when selecting the route.
At a Full Council meeting held yesterday (Thursday 27 September) at South Cambridgeshire District Council, Councillors supported a motion that said that the railway line “presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to make positive contributions to net biodiversity and natural capital gains”.
Councillors said that they fully support the railway line as it will be transformational to the regional economy, but want to see issues such as flood management, noise and air pollution and health taken into consideration from the start of the project, so they are fully considered when selecting the route.
The motion presented by Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, the Council’s Deputy Leader, also said that the route assessment must also be based on how it can support housing and employment growth already planned for the area as thousands of new homes already planned.
South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Local Plan, which will deliver 21,900 jobs and 19,500 new homes by 2031, was also given final approval at the Council meeting.
The motion also said that all routes for the central section of the East West railway line should be assessed so local people can give the widest feedback possible at public consultations on the proposals.
Since the elections in May, when the Council moved to Liberal Democrat control, a new Climate and Environment Advisory Committee has been set up and the Leader has stated that environmental issues are high up the Council’s agenda.
The motion was supported 40 members with one abstaining.
Cllr Aidan Van de Weyer, Deputy Leader and Lead Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport at South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “The railway line is vital as it will be transformational for our area in regards to how we can plan and manage growth. However, we are very clear there is a huge opportunity to push environmental issues higher up the pecking order when assessing the best routes. It is too easy for the focus simply to be on the economic and financial benefits, which are great, and we need to make sure the environment is protected and enhanced through any scheme. We have one chance to get this route and scheme right, and we must make sure we leave the right legacy for future generations.”