Agenda item

Agenda item

National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) Update and Oxford to Cambridge corridor

Purpose: there will be a presentation about the Oxford - Cambridge Corridor from a representative from Highways England.




Matt Stafford (Project Director for the Ox-Cam Expressway, Highways England) gave a presentation to the Board on the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway project; key milestones, and strategic objectives.


In his presentation he:

·         outlined the strategic context for the expressway as a whole and the ‘missing link’ 50km (30 mile) connection between the M4, M40 and M1, emphasising the scale of this scheme;

·         outlined the strategic objectives, as the scheme had to provide value for money and significant benefits:

1.    connectivity and creation of an integrated corridor

2.    economic growth and improving access to employment and facilities

3.    future-proofing including innovative and sustainable technology

4.    and wider economic and environmental benefits including separating through and local traffic, providing adequate links to local destinations, and supporting transport modes other than private petroleum fuelled car;

·         outlined the assessment criteria: resilience, reliability, shortened journey times and reduced congestion, support for potential growth along the corridor, impact on environment;

·         outlined the consultation and desk-top evidence gathering undertaken to this point (a third of the way through the process for establishing the business case) including understanding traffic movements and geographical/ geological/ statutory designation/ land use constraints and features;

·         explained that stakeholder and public views would be taken into account but were not given disproportionate weight in the evidence;

·         described the options for the corridors through which the expressway would pass, with common areas from the M4 to Abingdon and then east from the M1, and three options for the section from Abingdon to the M1;

·         explained the consultation phases and timetable for the project: the corridor being chosen mid-2018; formal public consultation on the shortlist of proposed routes within the chosen corridor in Autumn 2019 with an announcement in Autumn 2020; and construction from 2025 to 2030, subject to funding;

·         explained engagement with several stakeholder groups and special interest groups (including a forum and stakeholder reference group) and the relevant All Party Parliamentary Group; and the request for considered feedback from local authorities along the wider corridor area.


The Chair permitted questions from Michael Tyce, CPRE representative, as set out below.


1.    Are the options for the corridors now restricted to only those shown with all other options outside these areas shown in the presentation now rejected? For example has the original option ‘S4’ which ran south of option A been rejected?

A: The only corridor routes now under consideration are as shown in the presentation.

2.    How is the ‘preservation of the rural character’ taken into account as this has not been discussed explicitly?

A: the rural character is part of the consideration, and is one of the objectives when assessing the wider environmental impact of each corridor.

3.    Will the A34 form part of the expressway, as the treatment of this in the the maps is unclear about the inclusion of the A34 and the stretch over Boars Hill?

A: we are still considering the inclusion of the A34 – there is no decision as yet but if corridor routes B or C are chosen then all options for the A34 are still available.


The Chair invited questions from the Board as set out below.


1.    The Housing and Growth Deal recognises the whole of Oxfordshire as a single economic area. Will you take OxLEP’s evidence about the whole economic area into account? Is this project also considering the entirety of Oxfordshire as a single area?

A: We will undertake an economic analysis across the full study area that will not be based on county boundaries.


2.    Have you revisited the data gathered for the route choice of the M40 through Oxfordshire, especially on the geography and microclimate, and established the impact on the Ministry of Defence’s fuel line crossing this area? This data is the reason for the M40 bending round to avoid the fuel line and frequent fogs on Otmoor.

A: We are looking at all historic data and consulting with the utilities but have not spoken to the MoD about the impact on their supply lines.


3.    When is the Stage 2 consultation and engagement happening?

A: Autumn 2019, on a smaller number of route options within a single corridor. The corridor will be chosen without a formal consultation stage.

4.    Are health services and health service planners involved in the consideration of the corridor?

A: We are working with the ambulance service. We will check that we have involved other health services and service planners.


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