“Crime against the countryside,” says Countryside Regeneration Trust

A national charity, based near Comberton,  which promotes nature-friendly farming today issued an open letter to East West Rail (EWR), calling its plans to build a railway line in Cambridgeshire “a crime against the countryside.”

The Countryside Regeneration Trust (CRT), which owns 400-acre Lark Rise Farm near the villages of Barton and Comberton, is calling for EWR to change its proposed route through regenerative arable farmland known as Westfield.

The charity has also raised concerns about ecological surveys carried out by EWR on its land. The CRT is calling on EWR to work with them to protect the specialist habitat at Lark Rise Farm and to rethink its proposal for the southern route through Cambridgeshire.

Conservation Officer Vince Lea said: “We have written an open letter to EWR calling for action.

“The route will be disastrous for the Cambridgeshire countryside. It is the most expensive of the options previously suggested. It has the greatest impact on biodiversity and on residents of south Cambridgeshire.

EWR will take out a vast area of productive farmland, not just under the footprint of the railway line itself but all the surrounding land used during the construction or converted into ‘mitigation’ features. We would like to talk to them about the environmental impact and can share the results of our long-term monitoring of the site, with over 20 years of breeding bird surveys, winter bird counts, otter and water vole surveys, butterfly surveys and knowledge of rare arable plants.”

">" alt="" width="300" height="169" srcset="https://www.comberton.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/ 300w, https://www.comberton.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/ 1024w, https://www.comberton.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/ 150w, https://www.comberton.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/ 768w, https://www.comberton.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/ 1200w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Tim Scott, the tenant farmer at Lark Rise Farm for 30 years, said: “We are in the 24th year of nature recovery at Lark Rise. We have numerous Red List Species, and we are in the top one per cent of our county for these species and most, if not all of these, will be lost because of the railway.

“I question whether this folly is needed at all, but all common sense would suggest the northern route is the more appropriate one.”