Protest called over £130m Cambridge South East Transport scheme
A protest has been called against the “unnecessary destruction” of green belt land for a new segregated busway.
The protest has been organised by Stapleford Parish Council over the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s proposed £130million Cambridge South East Transport corridor busway.
The parish council and community groups are campaigning for the busway to be routed along the former Haverhill railway line and are calling for the current scheme to be paused.
The GCP says the alternative route would be more expensive and have fewer benefits.
Parish council chair Cllr Howard Kettel said: “We owe it to future generations to protect our remaining precious green spaces from unnecessary destruction.
“There is a need for a fundamental rethink of this transport scheme based on a whole different set of values and we are asking politicians to value local communities and countryside instead of budgets and expediency.”
The GCP’s preferred route will start near the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and run parallel with the railway, before diverting to the east of Great Shelford and Stapleford and then crossing the River Granta and running to the east of Sawston.
It says the new segregated route, along with a new travel hub near the A11, will mean people to the south-east of Cambridge will have access to faster and more reliable public transport services to the city and key employment sites.
The parish councils of Stapleford and Great Shelford commissioned an independent report in March to establish whether using the former railway line was technically possible after the GCP had ruled it out.
The report, produced by i-Transport, concluded the route was technically possible and disagreed with a number of the assumptions made by the GCP in reaching its conclusion.
But a review commissioned by the GCP of the i-Transport report and an independent assessment of its position found it does “not alter the previous conclusions around the preferred route”.
A technical report in 2020 had found “alternative routes following the railway alignment would have lower benefits and higher costs”.
The GCP also considers its scheme to be complementary to the proposed Cambridge South station and not impacted by the proposed East West Rail.
The parish councils agree that using the former railway would be more complex, take longer and be more expensive, but along with Cambridge Past, Present & Future and Cambridge Connect feel this is outweighed by the long-term benefits to the community of having a high-quality countryside and a bus service and active travel route at the heart of the villages.
They want politicians to make decisions “for the long term that are based on community wellbeing, quality of life and protecting the landscape instead of short-term decisions based on cost and ease of delivery”.
Subject to approval by its joint assembly and executive board, the GCP will submit a Transport and Works Act order to seek permission to construct the busway.
Protesters are asking for the GCP to pause their decision and carry out further work on the alternative route instead.
Cllr Kettel said: “The GCP won’t listen to the views of our community and continues to press ahead with its damaging scheme. We are protesting to raise awareness and to ask the GCP board members not to approve the unnecessary destruction of our countryside.”
The protest will be held tomorrow (Thursday, June 3) at 10am at the location of the proposed route on the edge of Stapleford.
Subject to approval the busway is planned to open in 2025.
A GCP spokesman said: “The Cambridge South East Transport project will provide rapid and reliable journeys on a dedicated public transport route and improved active travel links to improve air quality and provide better journeys.
“The Haverhill railway route was previously considered by the GCP, but it was ruled out following extensive technical work as it would cost significantly more and would provide fewer benefits – including the need to demolish homes and commercial properties, as well as conflicting with the existing railway infrastructure.”