The Rail Corridor Enhancement Project is the Cotswolds Champion programme’s first confirmed project. Whilst being essential to satisfy the terms of the Network Rail settlement agreement, the Project also represents a good opportunity to showcase ways of working with local partners and stakeholders. It also illustrates the Cotswolds National Landscape’s role in protecting and enhancing the AONB at various stages of a journey, from negotiating agreements with a major infrastructure company down to delivering projects on the ground.

The Project covers an area of approximately 6x10km between Old Sodbury and Alderton in the Cotswolds AONB. This represents the area covered by the Landscape and Visual Impact Appraisal (LVIA) exercise carried out by Network Rail to assess the impacts or rail electrification and scope out the extent of mitigation opportunities.  

The Project has a substantial budget which was ring-fenced for delivering mitigation projects, such as lineside planting, in accordance with the terms of the Network Rail settlement agreement. The Project therefore aims to deliver a series of discrete but related projects that will deliver sustainable forms of mitigation by pursuing these objectives:

  1. Use of lineside planting to screen or soften publicly accessible views or rail electrification
  2. Enhance the surrounding landscape, make it more resilient to pressures such as climate change and ash dieback, support nature recovery, and improve public rights of way
  3. Help secure sustainable improvements to natural capital and ecosystem services in the rail corridor area that may attract additional and more sustainable sources of funding

The above objectives clearly correspond to the Cotswolds AONB Management Plan 2018-23 polices.


Delivery of project outcomes will occur in two phases:

Phase 1 (2020/21). This will focus on several target sites which represent the most significant opportunities for delivering lineside mitigation.

Phase 2 (2021/22). This will broaden the project out to additional sites throughout the rail corridor area

Both phases will involve working with multiple farmers and landowners across the Project area to:

  • Deliver capital works
  • Support consistency in project design and help secure joined-up and sustainable landscape-scale benefits


** Stakeholders representing the local community may also wish to influence and contribute to elements of the Project. This will all require good facilitation, guided by relevant expertise and experience in project design, delivery, landscape character, land management, environmental data and funding.

For more information, contact Jo Leigh ([email protected]).