Dear Messrs Corbett, Stafford and Sporn,
I’m responding to your consultation on the proposed Oxford to Cambridge Express Way. I represent the Otmoor Division on Oxfordshire County Council.
Looking at your consultation document there are 3 potential corridors. I also note that included within your documentation are images showing the constraints, environmental mapping and environmental sites. Your stated assessment suggests that you will be looking at congestion reduction and shorter journey times as well as economic growth aspirations.
Looking at each options in turn alongside the evidence that you provide in your slides as well as some local knowledge I will put forward my preferred and least preferred options.
Corridor A – This seems to be the most obvious of the three corridors. Not only does the corridor avoid use of the busy A34 junction with the M40, therefore, reducing the likelihood of increased congestion but looking at the images within your presentation it has the least impact on environmentally sensitive sites, will result in shorter journey times and connects to an area with significant economic growth aspirations within Aylesbury Vale.
Corridor B – This has two routes to it, one round the south of Oxford and one round to the north of Oxford. A significant section of the southern corridor contains the environmentally sensitive area of Otmoor. Otmoor is a wetlands nature reserve containing Special Areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific interest and impacting on many rare and protected species. Indeed, Otmoor was deemed to be so special that the route of the M40 was diverted around it and therefore it makes no sense that it should be any different now. In terms of safety the area is very susceptible to mist and fog which has the potential to make it extremely hazardous should such weather conditions occur. Tragically we are all too aware of accidents that have occurred on other stretches of road affected by mist.
The northern corridor also has significant environmental constraints and impacts as it winds a path around Oxford Meadows and through the River Ray Conservation Target area. The environmental impacts alone should preclude this option but added to this is the potential to add to the already congested A34/ M40 junction as well as impacting on the land around Bicester. Bicester and Cherwell have already had significant growth and any growth that is likely to come with the Expressway will have a serious impact on local infrastructure not only for Bicester but the surrounding villages within the Otmoor Division.
Any route within corridor B is therefore going to have a significant threat to nature and the environment and does not represent sustainable development.
Corridor C - This still has options to run through environmentally sensitive areas but assuming that these are avoided in line with the reasons for dismissing corridor B then it would be a viable alternative to corridor A.
In selecting your preferred route please do take into consideration the detailed submissions from the Parish Council’s surrounding Otmoor and from Cherwell District Council as well as from organisations such as the RSPB and Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire Wildlife Trusts that contain detailed analysis of the environmental impacts.
The most logical, safe and cost effective route with the least environmental impact is route A and I hope you will give this detailed consideration.
Cllr. Dan Sames
County Councillor for Otmoor
District Councillor for Ambrosden & Bicester South
Town Councillor for Bicester South East