Exclusive: Richard Fuller MP forwards BFARe letter to Prime Minister

Letter to Prime Minister Richard Fuller MP BFARe 7 February

Richard Fuller, MP for North East Bedfordshire, has forwarded a letter from local campaign group Bedford for a Re-Consultation (BFARe) and 12 Bedfordshire Parish Councils to the Prime Minister.

In his cover note to the PM, the Conservative MP says the letter, dated 2 February 2022 and endorsed by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), demonstrates the “serious concerns” surrounding the 2019 consultation by East-West Rail to decide the route for a new rail line.

Read: Residents left ‘reeling’ ahead of next stage of East West rail consultation

Mr Fuller highlights the controversy surrounding the consultation, which many Bedfordians believe did not give them a proper chance to respond and that parish councils were not properly informed.

Mr Fuller explains to the PM that “all options offered in the 2019 consultation traverse my constituency, so I do not make any representation for, or against, any route.”

However, he does say that he is “concerned that this process has been deeply flawed and may result in a brutal scarring of the Bedfordshire countryside and considerable
resentment from local people.”

Read: Campaigners call EWR meeting “a tick-box exercise” but Bedford and Kempston MP says it was “constructive”

Mr Fuller closes his cover letter, saying, “I trust and hope you [the Prime Minister] will review the letter and give their representations your considered judgement.”

BFARe letter

BFARe has shared their letter to the Prime Minister with the Bedford Independent and we are happy to print it unedited for our readers.

Dear Prime Minister,

RE: East West Rail (EWR) – Route Through Bedford and on to Cambridge

We write as a group of alarmed Parish Councils, Borough Councillors, Environmental groups and residents of North Bedfordshire. Together we form BFARe (Bedford for a Re-Consultation) and met with the former Minister for Transport in March 2021 to highlight our grave concerns regarding the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, East West Rail.

Click on the image above to read the original letter in .pdf format


We would like to request that you intervene on our behalf and either call for a re-consultation on the route selection between Bedford and Cambridge, or a review this project for cancellation. We ask this for the following reasons: –

  • An opaque and deeply flawed consultation process
  • Massive incremental and irreversible environmental damage
  • Lack of local democratic process and community engagement
  • Escalating and hidden costs for the selected route

Despite our meeting with Chris Heaton-Harris and the subsequent consultation process in summer 2021, fundamental questions remain unanswered regarding the project, its environmental impact, cost inconsistencies and the lack of transparency. Our concerns can be summarised as:-

  • The irreversible and massive impact on unspoilt rolling North Bedfordshire countryside, rather than a route that follows an existing transport corridor as per DfT guidelines, such as the A421 South of the River Great Ouse.
  • Lack of relative carbon calculations at route selection stage, resulting in a route 7km longer through much more challenging terrain, creating a significantly higher carbon footprint to build than alternatives, contrary to Government decarbonisation objectives.
  • The lack of proper local engagement with impacted communities, putting North Bedfordshire in similar political territory as Amersham and Chesham. An inadequate consultation process that omitted large numbers of negatively impacted residents on the selected route, therefore skewing the route corridor choice.
  • Avoidance of local accountability through the support given by the Mayor of Bedford Borough to this route in the consultation in 2019. The route selection was not debated or voted on at Full Council and the Mayor acted unilaterally without consultation with local residents (a Mayor who now signals that EWR is a “Government Project” – firmly positioning the blame at your door).
  • Lack of transparency on costs during the route selection consultation in 2019 and again in 2021 – costs have escalated, but EWRCo are hiding these from public view. The Information Commissioner is currently investigating whether withholding of this vital information is against the public interest.
  • Absence of a credible business case, especially following COVID, the long-term impact on travel demand, and the demise of the Ox-Cam Arc development requirements. In any event, emerging strategies for future housing reveal the chosen route is least able to serve future development areas.
  • Failure to consider last-mile connectivity in Bedford and the existing congestion, pollution and air quality issues. The use of diesel trains will further negatively impact health and the environment in Bedford as will a new freight route running through the town.

The Parish Councils and other BFARe members would appreciate the opportunity to discuss these concerns with you directly. We have put forward a credible, less damaging, less costly and more environmentally sensitive alternative that meets all stakeholders’ objectives, but fear EWRCo are pressing on regardless.

We are keen to work with EWR and DfT to ensure this strategic investment achieves the goals of EWRCo and Bedford Borough Council in a more sustainable manner that improves the lives of residents without permanently destroying North Bedfordshire countryside.

Yours sincerely,

JM Barlow
Mike Barlow, Chair of BFARE

EWR Co recently invited community representatives from every parish, ward and electoral division along the potential route of East West Rail to join regular discussions about the much-needed new transport connection.

However, the councillors that the Bedford Independent has spoken to have expressed their frustration that EWR has not included residents in these meetings.

Read: Frustration that residents are excluded from East West Rail community discussions

Countryside action groups will protest house building plans and the East West Rail route in a series of walk this weekend (13 February)

Read: Countryside action groups plan walks to protest government house building targets

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