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Bats back on agenda as rail link inquiry resumes
RESIDENTS opposing Chiltern Railway’s £130m link between Oxford and London met at the Kassam Stadium yesterday for the reopening of the public inquiry.
The inquiry into the scheme – known as Evergreen 3 – to create a fast Oxford-Bicester-London service began in November 2010.
But it has been reopened to examine concerns about the impact of the scheme on bats in Wolvercot Tunnel.
The inquiry will also be looking at planning conditions to mitigate noise and vibration and to protect air quality in Oxford Meadow, Trap Grounds and Hook Meadow.
The first day saw an opening address from Timothy Straker, on behalf of Chiltern Railways, who said the company had satisfied Natural England on the bats issue.
He said a bat licence could now be granted, with an early warning system for bats introduced.
It is understood to involve trains triggering lights in the tunnel.
Residents in North Oxford and Wolvercote are unhappy about the prospect of trains running through the tunnel at up to 75mph.
Dr Michael Drolet, of First Turn, Oxford, told the inquiry that the current speed limit of 40mph should be maintained to reduce “disruption to people’s lives” and to safeguard bats.
The inquiry will be adjourned at the end of this week and will resume again on June 11.