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Oxford-Cambridge Expressway: BBOWT Response

Please click on the image below to visit the Bucks, Berks and Oxon Wildlife Trust and see their report recommending that Expressway Corridor B is discounted, and requesting an environmental impact assessment and public enquiry

Please write to Chris Grayling at the DTA, Michael Gove at DEFRA, expressing your concerns re the Expressway.

Oxford-Cambridge Expressway: OCC Otmoor Division response (Dan Sames)

Dear Messrs Corbett, Stafford and Sporn,

I’m responding to your consultation on the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Express Way. I represent the Otmoor Division on Oxfordshire County Council.

Looking at your consultation document there are 3 potential corridors. I also note that included within your documentation are images showing the constraints, environmental mapping and environmental sites. Your stated assessment suggests that you will be looking at congestion reduction and shorter journey times as well as economic growth aspirations.

Looking at each options in turn alongside the evidence that you provide in your slides as well as some local knowledge I will put forward my preferred and least preferred options.

Corridor A – This seems to be the most obvious of the three corridors. Not only does the corridor avoid use of the busy A34 junction with the M40, therefore, reducing the likelihood of increased congestion but looking at the images within your presentation it has the least impact on environmentally sensitive sites, will result in shorter journey times and connects to an area with significant economic growth aspirations within Aylesbury Vale.

Corridor B – This has two routes to it, one round the south of Oxford and one round to the north of Oxford. A significant section of the southern corridor contains the environmentally sensitive area of Otmoor. Otmoor is a wetlands nature reserve containing Special Areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific interest and impacting on many rare and protected species. Indeed, Otmoor was deemed to be so special that the route of the M40 was diverted around it and therefore it makes no sense that it should be any different now. In terms of safety the area is very susceptible to mist and fog which has the potential to make it extremely hazardous should such weather conditions occur. Tragically we are all too aware of accidents that have occurred on other stretches of road affected by mist.

The northern corridor also has significant environmental constraints and impacts as it winds a path around Oxford Meadows and through the River Ray Conservation Target area. The environmental impacts alone should preclude this option but added to this is the potential to add to the already congested A34/ M40 junction as well as impacting on the land around Bicester. Bicester and Cherwell have already had significant growth and any growth that is likely to come with the Expressway will have a serious impact on local infrastructure not only for Bicester but the surrounding villages within the Otmoor Division.

Any route within corridor B is therefore going to have a significant threat to nature and the environment and does not represent sustainable development.

Corridor C  - This still has options to run through environmentally sensitive areas but assuming that these are avoided in line with the reasons for dismissing corridor B then it would be a viable alternative to corridor A.

In selecting your preferred route please do take into consideration the detailed submissions from the  Parish Council’s surrounding Otmoor and from Cherwell District Council as well as from organisations such as the RSPB and Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire Wildlife Trusts that contain detailed analysis of the environmental impacts.

The most logical, safe and cost effective route with the least environmental impact is route A and I hope you will give this detailed consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr. Dan Sames

County Councillor for Otmoor

District Councillor for Ambrosden & Bicester South

Town Councillor for Bicester South East

Dan.Sames@Oxfordshire.Gov.uk

07771857088

Oxford-Cambridge Expressway: Oxford County Council response (Ian Hudspeth)

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Expressway which is promoted by Highways England; any correspondence on this should be sent to OxfordtoCambridgeExpressway@highwaysengland.co.uk

The response by Oxfordshire County council sent  12th April 2018 was:

Oxford to Cambridge Expressway – Oxfordshire Response on Corridor Preferences

We welcome the further development work and engagement taking place on the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway project and the opportunity to give views to Highways England. 

At this stage, Oxfordshire is not able to indicate a corridor preference, given that the technical and other supporting work required to inform the decision on a preferred corridor is not yet complete.  Nor is it possible therefore, for these reasons, to provide a formal Council position.

We support the strategic objectives and purpose of the Expressway project, recognising the opportunity it brings to support and enable growth and development, enhance connectivity and take forward innovation and smart technology on the Oxford to Cambridge corridor.  However, following detailed discussion on the project between officers and Members, we believe there are some important principles which, in addition to the published assessment criteria, should be integral to the corridor selection and decision-making process.   In Oxfordshire, these include:

  1. Ensuring that the Expressway corridor does not increase pressure on the existing, already overstretched strategic highway network.  Specifically, the Expressway must not use the section of the A34 through central Oxfordshire (broadly defined as at least the section between the Lodge Hill junction, north of Abingdon and the Bicester Road junction, east of Kidlington).  This section is where the A34 currently operates as both a regional/national strategic route and a local distributor route (forming part of the Oxford Ring Road) and it is essential that the new Expressway infrastructure provides a completely separate strategic route to avoid this conflict of use;
  2. Ensuring that the Expressway corridor (or subsequently identified route) minimises the impact on the existing highway network, i.e. it should not use existing local road networks or draw significant strategic traffic directly into local road networks / highway infrastructure which would not be able to cope – the ring road around Bicester for example;
  3. Ensuring that the Expressway is developed separately alongside locally planned highway enhancements such as Culham river crossing.

It is clear that, even taking these principles into account, there remain a number of corridor options and variants in Oxfordshire, including options west and east of Oxford City, and it is important that these are all fully and transparently considered through the assessment and decision-making process.  This includes taking into account how they would fit in with corridor preferences elsewhere on the Expressway corridor, for example in Buckinghamshire.

My personal view on the Expressway is:

The road that causes the most traffic issues for Oxfordshire is the A34 as it’s a mixture of a local and national traffic. If the 2 parts could be separated to allow the ring road to function as a local road then there would be an improvement for Oxfordshire’s residents. The A34 impacts on all 5 Districts and all 6 constituencies so there are few residents not affected. On page 17 of the strategic stage 3 study 

( https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/571353/oxford-to-cambridge-expressway-strategic-study-stage-3-report.pdf )  paragraphs 3.4.5 & 3.4.6, it is clear that this proposal will provide a local solution.

Whatever corridor and, ultimately, route chosen there will be local impact with local opposition however we have to consider the bigger picture to improve the A34. For that reason I am not suggesting a preferred corridor as I want to wait to see the evidence that Highways England will provide.

Regards

Cllr Ian Hudspeth

County Councillor for the Woodstock Division

Leader Oxfordshire County Council

01865 815 283

07956 270 318

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