Prescott’s comments boost railway campaigners’ hopes

Date: Saturday 27th March 2004

LOCAL railway campaigners seeking the reopening of the Keswick to Penrith line have been encouraged by comments made by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott when he was in Cumbria.

Cedric Martindale, a director of CKP Railways and the leading figure behind plans to reinstate the link which was closed more than 30 years ago, said Mr. Prescott’s remarks came in the light of Keswick being named as one of the country’s six new “Beacon” towns.

KEYFACTORS

The Deputy PM identified two key factors in regenerating the area affordable housing and transport links.

The Keswick to Penrith project is the first to be funded only by investments direct from people who want the transport link reinstating.

Local people, businesses and supporters from further afield, have invested nearly £300,000 in the design and development stages.

The main source of funding has been through the sale of bonds. The £300,000 is about half of the total needed to get a transport and works order from the Government.

The scoping report, the first stage of the environmental impact assessment, is being prepared for Government scrutiny.

This examines the environmental challenges which could arise from the construction and operation of the railway.

Mr. Martindale said it would assess the positive and negative consequences and, where serious impacts were spotted, the need for further study would be identified.

PLANNINGPOLICIES

“The report will also look at planning policies and any impact the railway might have on these,” he said.

Sixty organisations and local authorities have received the draft of the report.

“Nothing can be taken for granted. The effects on the landscape, wildlife, people, archaeology, heritage, buildings, traffic and air quality all have to be assessed and quantified,” said Mr. Martindale.