Decision details

Decision details

Opposition to Oxford-Cambridge expressway as currently proposed

Decision Maker: Council

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


Councillor Gant, seconded by Councillor Landell Mills, proposed the submitted motion as set out in the agenda and briefing note.


Councillor Gant accepted the amendments from both Councillor Hollingsworth and Councillor Simmons as set out in the briefing note.


After debate and on being put to the vote the amended motion was agreed.


Council resolved to adopt the following motion, as amended:


Council notes that the Leader of the Council noted the Government’s announcement of the proposed corridor for the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway and then went on to say: “However, this opaque process - with the decision made by Highways England – does little to reduce uncertainty for people in Oxford and those that travel to work here. It remains wholly unclear which side of Oxford the final route will take, let alone how the Expressway might help reduce the congestion on the overstretched A34 and A40. 
“The interface between the proposed Expressway and the new East-West Rail is also key. We welcome the commitment to plan for and invest in majorinfrastructure to support housing and economic growth in Oxfordshire, but we want to see the development of integrated transport systems and the prioritisation of clean, green and public transport.  These principles need to be central in determining the final detailed route. We will now look closely at the proposals and will want to make sure there is a meaningful public consultation conducted by Highways England.”

In addition, council notes that through her position on the Growth Board, the Leader has ensured that the Growth Board has not endorsed proposals for an Expressway but has expressed concerns over the lack of clarity and emphasised that should such a proposal go ahead, the main priority needs to be integration with public transport.

Council regrets the lack of clarity from government on its proposals which contributes to considerable uncertainty both about how the Expressway is intended to deliver benefit, and about the possible impact on homes, lives, the environment, amenities and facilities, including in and adjacent to the greater Oxford area.

In particular, Council notes with regret that:

1. It is unclear what the word “Expressway” means in this context

2. Insufficient work has been done on the potential of enhanced rail links to deliver better outcomes for passengers, freight, and sustainable economic growth

3. Actual and proposed consultation is inadequate

4. It is unclear which of a range of possible justifications for the Expressway, which potentially contradict each other, are being used, including:

a) A ‘strategic route’ to carry freight traffic from the west and south to the east.

b) A route to make commuting between Oxford/Milton Keynes/Bedford/Cambridge easier and quicker.

c) A road that will enable significant housing growth of 1,000,000 extra houses along its length.

d) Relieving traffic on the A34, as one member of the Growth Board has stated publicly (which does not appear to be one of the stated aims, and current plans do not rule out using the A34 in part as the Expressway, which would of course add more traffic to it)

5. Increased road building will inevitably have a serious negative impact on air quality and make the achievement of climate change targets much more challenging at a time when all public bodies must seek to use every part of their planning, investment and delivery mechanisms to achieve air quality improvements and significant carbon reductions; and

Increased road building will inevitably have a serious negative impact on air quality at a time when all public bodies must seek to use every part of their planning, investment and delivery mechanisms to achieve the opposite and that the challenges we all face because of climate change require us to make important choices about our future.

Council therefore resolves to oppose the Expressway as it is currently proposed, to continue to press national government for more investment in sustainable transport, and to ask the Department for Transport to urgently clarify its proposals around the Expressway.


Publication date: 12/02/2019

Date of decision: 28/01/2019

Decided at meeting: 28/01/2019 - Council