Railfuture member Simon Norton is alerting members to the fact that plans for a rowing lake at Willington, Bedfordshire, could jeopardise plans to rebuild the East-West rail link.

Simon reports: "I recently learnt that the closing date for objections to the proposed Willington rowing lake, which would sever the old rail route between Bedford and Sandy/St Neots, has been deferred to 13 February 2004. So there is still time to send an objection."

Objections should be sent to Mr Richard Koller, Development Planning & Control Manager, Beds CC, County Hall, Cauldwell St, Bedford MK42 9AP.

The reference is BC/CM/2003/33.

Mr Koller's email address is richard.koller at bedscc.gov.uk

If emailing him remember to include your postal address in the message.

Don't forget to insert a reference to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's plans to expand Milton Keynes, which are intimately linked with the restoration of East-West rail and which should make traffic generation a key concern.

The East-West rail route is absolutely essential to cope with traffic problems in the Milton Keynes-Bedford-Cambridge - and wider - area. It is a scandal that British Rail was on the verge of implementing stage one between Bedford and Oxford when it was stopped by the Tory government's botched privatisation.

The subsequent Labour Government - led by Tony Blair - has been too preoccupied with and afraid of the road lobby to make any progress on the proposals for the past seven years.

The rowing lake will generate even more road traffic - and thus air pollution and global warming - in an area where the air is already badly polluted by both road traffic and air-borne effluent from the Bedfordshire brickworks carried on the prevailing winds.

Academics at the two university cities of Oxford and Cambridge are supporting an air link because they are frustrated by the lack of modern rail connections.