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Opposition grows to £3.5bn Oxford to Cambridge Expressway

Destined to cut through the Thames Valley countryside - plans for a new £3.5 billion highway linking Oxford to Cambridge are moving forward.

But not with the support of local councils.

Buckinghamshire County Council is the latest authority to officially declare its opposition to the Expressway.

This week, councillors voted for a motion against the plan.

It was brought forward by the leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council, Cllr Angela Macpherson, after Aylesbury too voted to oppose the Expressway at a meeting earlier this month.

She said she was “delighted” by the result.

Cllr Angela Macpherson proposed the motion to oppose the plans.

“[The Expressway] will be detrimental to our environment, detrimental to our wildlife,” she said.

“It will disrupt rural communities that very much value the lifestyles they have.

“It will also fly in the face of carbon reduction targets that the government themselves are setting to be carbon neutral by 2050.”

The Expressway will go from Oxford, via Milton Keynes, and end up in Cambridge.

It will cost £3.5 billion - and mean around a million new homes being built.

And it’s been highly controversial, with a number of protests held against the plan.

The impact on the environment is one of the major concerns, and the local Wildlife Trust even mounted a legal challenge against the plans earlier this year, which was ultimately unsuccessful.

Highways England has now chosen its two preferred route options.

One passing to the west of Oxford - and one to the east.

The organisation says the new road will help what it calls a 'missing strategic link' - a 30-mile gap in the major road network between the M1 and the M40.

It will also link up with a proposed East-West rail line, from Abingdon and Oxford to the south of Milton Keynes via Winslow, ultimately extending the Aylesbury line as well.

The two preferred route options are shaded orange and green. Credit: Highways England

A spokesman said:

The Oxford to Cambridge Expressway is being developed to complement East West Rail and gives travellers and businesses a real choice that will best suit their needs. The expressway will also help the region by putting the right traffic on the right roads.

When the consultation opens we will publish and consult on potential route options. We are still identifying what these options will be. Effects on the environment will be a key consideration with any proposed route options.

We respect everyone’s opinion about the expressway and will continue to engage closely and work collaboratively with our stakeholders including Buckinghamshire County Council.

– Highways England spokesman

A public consultation was due to be held this autumn - but there has not yet been any update on when that will begin.