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CPRE reaction to selection of 'preferred route' for Oxford-Cambridge Expressway

CPRE reaction to selection of 'preferred route' for Oxford-Cambridge Expressway

CPRE has today criticised the announcement that the government has accepted Highways England’s preferred ‘corridor B’ for a new expressway designed to speed up journeys between Oxford and Cambridge.

The minister claimed that the road will ‘help unlock the commercial development of up to one million new homes’, with the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick, adding that ‘the Oxford to Cambridge arc is one of the greatest opportunities for economic growth in Europe’.

Paul Miner, head of strategic plans and devolution at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said:

‘We fear that the government’s announcement of the expressway route will lead to major new development being planned in open countryside all along it. This will lead to unsustainable urban sprawl. Instead, we need a proper planning approach that looks to link housing development with public transport, such as East-West Rail - which could also support greener growth.

‘This route will be particularly damaging because it crosses tranquil, unspoilt countryside, threatening characterful villages and many important wildlife sites. The lack of meaningful public consultation to date means that local communities are facing an unwanted road that will also increase traffic and pollution. At a time when we desperately need to prioritise investment in sustainable travel options, it makes no sense to lock in carbon emissions, air pollution and car-dependency, for decades to come.’

The roads minister claimed that the preferred corridor underlined the Government’s ‘desire to protect the natural environment’, but CPRE warns that the route could still threaten Green Belt countryside (including the landscape setting of Oxford), and compromise ancient woodlands, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

While CPRE welcomes the minister’s pledge to rule out ‘construction in the area of the Otmoor nature reserve’, we continue to question the need for the expressway, and the rationale for rejecting the less damaging ‘route C’ option which would make better use of existing roads.
CPRE is calling for a full Parliamentary Select Committee Inquiry into the proposals, and a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) that looks at the impacts of both the proposed housing and transport development in a holistic manner.

© Campaign to Protect Rural England, 5-11 Lavington Street, London, SE1 0NZ | Tel: 020 7981 2800 | Email: info@cpre.org.uk | www.cpre.org.uk

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