CPRE welcomes the news that the Oxford-Cambridge expressway road is canned

19th March 2021

The Secretary of State has announced the decision to cancel the proposed Oxford to Cambridge expressway – and we’re delighted to see this contradictory road-building plan binned.

The new road would have linked Oxford with Cambridge, and local CPRE groups in the region had warned that nature and green spaces across the area would have been devastated if the plans went ahead. Also being binned is the related proposed expressway between Milton Keynes and Oxford – although a planned ‘road improvement’ scheme between Cambridge and Milton Keynes remains. 

The energetic work of campaigners across several CPRE groups saw the expressway project first paused, in March 2020, and now scrapped entirely as Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said that the government would ‘work on alternative plans.’

A contradiction to commitments

CPRE’s head of land use and planning, Paul Miner, added his voice to the network of local CPRE groups welcoming the government’s change of heart. As Paul noted, the plans flew in the face of the government’s claims to be committed to nature and addressing the climate crisis:

‘It was in complete contradiction to the government’s commitment to protect our rural heritage and tackle the climate and ecological emergencies. We would have also lost large areas of valuable farmland’.

And while we welcome this climbdown from government, and Shapps’ plans to ‘remain committed to boosting transport links in the area’, we urge that, in Paul’s words, ‘there’s more to be done.’ This is just one of several worrying projects in the area, and we at CPRE are now looking for more commitments from the government on other plans.

Paul says:

‘This is a brilliant step in the right direction, but there’s more to be done. We now hope Robert Jenrick will apply similar sense and logic to other unsustainable plans – such as committing to a rethink of the National Infrastructure Commission’s recommendations to build 1 million houses in the area between Oxford and Cambridge. Instead, we want to see levelling-up of the Midlands and the North to be prioritised, which have vast areas of brownfield land in urgent need of regeneration.’

Want to add your voice?

CPRE works at a local and national level to stand with the countryside. We’re still talking to the government about our hopes for the remaining plans, pushing for more transparent consultation processes, and discussing with local authorities how they can protect areas of tranquility and limit light pollution – all areas that we’re passionate about.

Want to get involved? You can find your local group and join us as a member from just £3 a month, or make a donation to help us keep campaigning on issues such as the expressway. Thanks for being a part of it.

A motorway lit by streetlights at night
We need roads - but we don't want investment in new major road-building schemes ahead of green investment. Jack B / Unsplash

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The legacy of Ethel’s vision and determination lives on thanks to the continued efforts of the Friends of the Peak District, and she remains an inspiration to everyone within CPRE