Ancient woodland is under threat from the East West Rail project after an announcement on the route. Option E has been revealed as the preferred route for the central section, which stretches between Bedford and Cambridge. The project falls under the wider umbrella of the Oxford to Cambridge growth arc, which incorporates huge housing, road and rail development.

Jack Taylor, lead campaigner at the Woodland Trust, said: 

“East West Rail has preferred to go with the E route option for the Bedford to Cambridge section of the route. This choice of route corridor is most concerning as Route E was the worst of all the route corridor options in terms of potential impacts on irreplaceable ancient woodland.”

“Eight ancient woods, one Woodland Trust wood and one veteran tree fall within the corridor. Ancient woodland and ancient and veteran trees are irreplaceable; once lost they cannot be recreated. The Trust considers that development resulting in damage or loss to such habitats is unacceptable and every possible measure must be explored to avoid adverse impact.

“However, there is no specific route chosen for this section, only a corridor at this stage. This means East West Rail has the opportunity to ensure it avoids all the irreplaceable habitats within this route corridor in design and development of the specific route. The Trust wants East West Rail to fully engage in communication so that it can avoid ancient woods and veteran trees within their chosen corridor.”

Notes to editors

For media queries only please contact Steve Marsh on 01476 581121 or stevemarsh@woodlandtrust.org.uk. Public enquiries should be directed to 0330 333 3300 or enquiries@woodlandtrust.org.uk.

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims:  

  1. protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,200 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.