PROTESTERS have decried ‘damaging’ plans for a flyover as part of a new road and river crossing linking Didcot with the Culham Science Centre near their homes.

Appleford residents are concerned a scheme for a 30ft high road will bring harmful pollution levels, high traffic volumes and cause noise and a visual intrusion that may block out their sunlight.

The road and river crossing over the Thames, just outside Abingdon, has been driven by a boom in the science sector and with hopes it will create enough capacity on the roads for 11,711 new homes on several sites around Didcot.

Despite agreeing there would be benefits of having a new Thames crossing, Appleford, Culham, Long Wittenham and Sutton Courteney parish councils have joined forces to object to having a flyover near Appleford level crossing.

More than 90 per cent of village households have signed a petition calling for the road to be moved 250 metres further west, to avoid construction of a high flyover on the railway level crossing.

Appleford parish councillor Greg O’Broin handed the petition to Oxfordshire County Council yesterday and joined villagers in a peaceful banner protest outside County Hall in Oxford.

He said: “We understand that there is a logic to the road, but we are concerned about noise and pollution. There are 100 HGVs a day that currently do not pass Appleford, but will all now pass the village 30ft in the air.”

Mr O’Broin believes moving the road west will not cost a significant amount more than the county council’s current plans.

He said: “Even if there is an incremental cost, the health and wellbeing of a small village is not a tradable item to save a modest amount of cost.”

Some villagers feel that, due to Covid-19 restrictions, they have not been able to have a proper consultation and that, in light of the pandemic, the climate emergency and the change in county council leadership, there is a new opportunity for discussion.

Appleford resident Victoria Sheppherd said: “People want things to change, yet we have a new council who are pushing straight ahead with something the old leadership approved.”

She added: “How do you build a 30ft road, that is only going to facilitate more houses, in a green way?”

A county council statement said: “Through the design process, OCC has considered many alignment options, taking into account various competing demands.

“A section of the proposed scheme has already been moved further west, where this has been feasible. OCC has continued to review alternative alignments proposed by Appleford Parish Council, through detailed on-going engagement.

“OCC will look at the contents of the petition and its suggestions.”