East Cambs wildlife ‘at risk’ amid plans to build new railway bridge
- Credit: Network Rail
An avid conservationist has slammed Network Rail plans to build a new bridge in east Cambridgeshire, claiming it puts wildlife “at risk”.
Proposed plans would mean the closure of Kiln Lane level crossing in Ely, a decision Professor Andrew Balmford says would cause “major damage”.
The Cambridge University conservation scientist and chairman of Ely Wildspace has launched a campaign to oppose the “costly plans”.
“In our view, Network Rail is conducting a flawed consultation process,” he said.
“So far it appears there has only been a superficial assessment of the impact of these proposals.”
The level crossing forms part of a walk in Ely Country Park, alongside the River Great Ouse and through woodland at Springhead Lane.
It is also part of a walk through the Ely Pits and Meadows Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), meaning the area meets the “gold standard for nationally important places for wildlife”.
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In a letter to Network Rail, Mr Balmford said: “We understand the need to improve rail capacity through Ely as outlined in your consultation document.
“All the options for the Kiln Lane crossing involving the construction of vehicular / pedestrian bridges would have significantly adverse impacts on the adjacent Ely Pits and Meadows SSSI.
“The disturbance to the SSSI would be considerable both during any large-scale construction and in the longer term.
“There are also considerable landscape impacts with any proposed bridge option.
“The current consultation as set out does not provide any environmental impact data regarding the options and therefore, we believe, the public consultation process is fundamentally flawed and based purely on a visual preference for options, all of which would permanently damage the SSSI.
“We also question the need for such an expensive infrastructure project at what is a relatively quiet crossing.
“The cost and scale of the proposals appear to be a disproportionate response given the low level of vehicular use of the road.”
Mr Bullivant is now urging residents and members of Ely Wildspace to have their say on works as part of the Ely area capacity enhancements.
He added: “The construction and use of large bridges in the area would greatly diminish its amenity value, at a time when the importance of local nature-based recreation has never been greater.”
To have your say, visit: phase2.elyareacapacity.com/how-to-have-your-say/