Letters: How will Bedford Borough Council limit negative environmental impact of East West Rail?

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BFARe and Protect Poets protesters at a recent 'protest' walk last month, at the proposed northern alignment of the East West Rail route. Image: BFARe/Facebook
BFARe and Protect Poets protesters at a'protest' walk at the proposed northern alignment of the East West Rail route. Image: BFARe/Facebook

Dear editor,

I watched the recent Borough Executive meeting and was disheartened by the new Rail Strategy.

This failed to mention how the Borough Council is going to limit the negative environmental impact of East West Rail.

At present, the railway will use diesel locomotives. Diesel pollution results in a range of medical problems – neurological, cardiovascular and respiratory.

In the UK the Royal College of Physicians suggested in 2016 that this meant approximately 40,000 excess deaths a year producing an economic burden of over £20 billion a year.

In Bedford, the East West Rail project will go through areas such as Ampthill Road which already have high rates of people aged 16-64 with a limiting long-term illness and health inequality.

A reasonable suggestion is that the scheme will cause more premature deaths.
Bedford Borough Council states that it supports electrification of East West Rail to overcome this.

However, one of its officials has already admitted that there will be more traffic congestion.

This will cause pollution, but no solutions have been put forward. The Borough also ignores the potential dangers of other pollutants caused by rail for example noise.

These pollutants will not only affect physical health but also mental health.

The result is that residents whose lives have been disrupted by the dithering of East West Rail to make progress with the project will then have to live with the consequences.

Bedfordians have a right to be angry with the Borough Council. It wanted the proposed East West Rail scheme, but it has done little to help residents or even to plan ahead to reduce the impact.

I have copied this to the Councillor with the portfolio for public health for comment. It is her role to promote not reduce good health.
It’s just not right.

Yours sincerely

Claire Burton
Cowper Road
Bedford

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