By Professor Richard Harding, South Oxfordshire Sustainability

THE Oxford to Cambridge Expressway has been approved in the recent Budget.

The Expressway is not just a road, it is a development corridor stretching between Oxford and Cambridge, designed to accelerate economic growth.

To pay for it, there will be one million new houses, with associated road links and employment land, equivalent to two cities the size of Liverpool.

In reality, buildings will be spread out along the route leading to an urban corridor many miles wide. Oxfordshire’s ‘share’ of the houses will be 200,000 to 300,000 – in addition to the 100,000 already planned.

This would double the population of Oxfordshire.

It has taken Oxfordshire 1,000 years to grow to its current size of 650,000 people – this development would increase it to well over a million in 25 years!

The route has yet to be decided. It starts at the A34 south of Oxford and heads north-east towards Milton Keynes, either following the A34 west of Oxford (requiring extensive demolition of properties in Botley) or going round the east side: leaving the A34 north of Abingdon and swinging though the countryside, north of Dorchester and up to Wheatley and beyond.

The Government promises that the route would avoid Otmoor, but local wildlife trust, BBOWT, says that any route would devastate a number of nature reserves (quite apart from the destruction of our landscape and farmland).

BBOWT is asking for donations to take legal action against the government for failing to make an environmental assessment bbowt.org.uk/wildlife/nature-matters/oxford-cambridge-expressway

There are many reasons for people to be concerned.

From the climate perspective, why are we encouraging infrastructure based on the car, inevitably increasing carbon emissions and pollution? The development takes up enormous tracts of land that we desperately need for food, forestry, wildlife and recreation.

Finally on a community level, doubling Oxfordshire’s population in 25 years will lead to massive disruption and strains on our services.

In South Oxfordshire, we will be living on the edge of a huge building site for two decades.

If you are worried about these developments you could do your bit, by writing to your local councillors and MPs, and signing up to the No Expressway Alliance – noexpresswayalliance.org