BILLIONS of pounds which the Government has earmarked for the Oxford-Cambridge expressway would be better spent on public transport, an Oxford MP has told Parliament today.

Layla Moran, who represents Oxford West and Abingdon, is a leading critic of the expressway.

The Government has said the road could link the country's two leading university cities by 2030 and mean car journey times are cut by 40 minutes.

Ms Moran fears part of Botley could be demolished to lead to a wider A34 to accommodate part of the expressway – the price of which could vary from about £4bn to £7bn.

She told the House of Commons today how residents had told her that they fear part of the ‘beautiful’ Oxfordshire countryside could be ‘massacred’ to make way for the project.

She said: “There is a huge amount of peer-reviewed evidence that shows that when a Government chooses to invest in additional road capacity, while in the short-term there may well be an alleviation of traffic, in the long-term, the impact is more traffic, more pollution and higher carbon dioxide emissions.

"This is at a time when we should be bearing down on these things.”

Ms Moran added: “When a Government decides to invest in public transport, then the result is the opposite.

"At the very least, the Government should give equal consideration to all of these approaches first before [it makes] this decision.

“If the Government is looking to achieve best value for the taxpayer’s money in the long term and are committed to switching from the car to other forms of transport then this is their chance.”

Mr Norman added the Government has yet to settle on a final route – and that it could still include the Otmoor nature reserve, between Oxford and Bicester.

Thousands of residents signed petitions opposing the reserve being flatten for the road ahead of last September's announcement.

But Mr Norman said: “We have not prejudged any decisions as to the number of lanes, number of junctions or other features of the road.”

Ms Moran asked: “So if this is a preferred route does that mean the ruling out of Otmoor is not absolute or is that absolute?”

Mr Norman said: “As I’ve said, we haven’t made prejudgements. Our very strong preference is not to cross Otmoor.

“We have therefore selected options that do not do that. We have given very clear signals but it’s important to say that we’re at a relatively early stage of the process and therefore our preferred routes are just that and subject to further discussion, consultation and review.”

Consultation on the expressway will start later this year.

England's Economic Heartland, which has members from Oxfordshire, will look at the possibility of the road connecting other areas and not simply serving areas between Oxford and Cambridge.

That body is currently led by Martin Tett, the leader of Buckinghamshire County Council.

Ian Hudspeth, the leader of Oxfordshire County Council, and Jeremy Long, the chairman of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, are also members.