Alternative proposal isn’t nimbyism, says CamBedRailRoad chairman
PUBLISHED: 13:11 26 September 2018 | UPDATED: 08:49 01 October 2018
More than 150 people packed into Shepreth Village Hall yesterday evening for the latest CamBedRailRoad meeting on the proposals for the East West Rail Link from Oxford to Cambridge.
The think tank was set up by Sebastian Kindersley and others, who introduced the plan for a northern corridor option from Bedford to Cambridge as an alternative to the current ‘C-corridor’ proposal which incorporates the area around Sandy and Shepreth.
Problems with unclear plans, moving freight, traffic and population increase, cost and the notion of nimbyism were all raised at the meeting.
Chairman Mr Kindersley, who was joined by panelists Brian Bell and James Paxman, said their process started after the story broke of a proposed new town at Bassingbourn at the end of last year.
He said the C-corridor was likely to have been chosen because it was deemed the best performing with the highest benefit-to-cost ratio.
But he said it would reach a much lower number of people than their proposed northern route, which incorporates Bedford Wixams, and new developments at Cambourne, Northstowe and St Neots.
The group also said East West Rail’s preferred route, which passes through land between Sandy and Biggleswade and through South Cambridgeshire, would cause a widespread planning blight, wouldn’t serve communities and would pass through the “best and most versatile agricultural land”.
Mr Kindersley said they had met with many parties including MPs Heidi Allen and Alistair Burt, and the East West Rail Company themselves, and want their proposal to be “given a fair crack of the whip” like the C-corridor.
To a question from the audience regarding cost, Mr Kindersley said that their northern route option would be more expensive – but they “believe that the social value and economic benefits of our route would far outweigh the pounds, shillings and pence” it would take to create it.
Regarding nimbyism, the response was: “Our proposal can make a step change in transport. Whereas there might be a residual one per cent nimby, 99 per cent is how can we get the right route.”
There was also a question of why their proposal should be chosen when it wasn’t fully-costed, and the response was that this was an opportunity they had to take and if it was considered they would want a delay in the decision making process to address this.
Mr Kindersley said there’s nothing like volume and asked the audience to spread the word, sign the online petition and, at the very least “tell your neighbours”.
For more go to www.cambedrailroad.org and view the petition at www.change.org/p/secretary-of-state-for-transport-northern-rail-route-should-be-evaluated-equally-alongside-ewr-s-current-proposals-d7bd2f1f-7675-41de-b072-161074cfdeef