'No clear winner' as report of alternative East West Rail routes published by Bedford council
But there isn’t a “clear winner” a senior council officer has said.
On Tuesday (February 6) councillors and key stakeholders attended a briefing given by Jon Shortland, the council’s chief officer for planning, infrastructure and economic growth. The report scrutinised eight potential routes, including the one currently proposed by East West Rail (EWR).
Mr Shortland said: “We have looked at a range of routes to see how they stack up against the criteria we set out.”
The 13 criteria included impact on residential properties, environmental impacts, costs, and predicted benefits. A table was then used to assess each route and compare them to the “Reference Case” of EWR’s preference for Route 1 (TV).
“So the key thing to take away from this table is that it doesn’t show a clear winner,” Mr Shortland said. “There are none of those columns which showed up as green all the way down. They all had at least some yellow, orange or maybe red, within them and that is the case for every route, including EWR’s preferred route.
“It will be for decision makers to decide which of those criteria is the most important. Those decision makers will be firstly people within the council, the members who will come to a decision at some point in the future when the statutory consultation takes place.
“We will then put [Bedford’s] view forward, we’ll support it with the evidence that we’ve got, we’ll support it with barristers at a public enquiry if we need to. And we will push that case as far as we can for the residents of Bedford – once members have decided on a common view,” he said.
“But we need to acknowledge that the final decision isn’t taken… by councillors of this authority, it’s taken by the secretary of state as advised by the planning inspectorate. We can make our case to those people but in the end, it’s their decision which way this goes,” he said.
Visit the council's website to view the alternative routes documentation.