Bucks Council's delight as £3.5bn Expressway is scrapped

The motorway style road would have run across northern Bucks linking Oxford to Milton Keynes.

Thursday, 18th March 2021, 11:43 am
Updated Thursday, 18th March 2021, 11:44 am
Here was where it could have been.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said the decision was made after "extensive analysis" of the scheme.

The road aimed to link Oxford with Aylesbury. Milton Keynes and Cambridge.

It was projected to cost £3.5 billion and could have involved an additional one million homes being built across the three cities.

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Local MP Greg Smith said he was 'delighted' by the news.

Greg said: "I'm delighted Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has listened to my very grave concerns about this scheme. I have lobbied ministers hard. The enormous devastation that would have been caused to Buckinghamshire countryside is totally unacceptable. East West Rail will improve links. There is no need for this road scheme.

“I want to thank all local residents, local Conservative councillors and campaigners that have made their voices heard in making the case against this road. This is a hard earned victory.

“Residents have already had to endure, in many cases, unnecessary damage to their local surroundings due to the retrograde way in which HS2 Limited and their contractors have acted.

"It is great news for everyone in Buckinghamshire that this unwanted Expressway scheme has been cancelled.

"It is now imperative we work out locally what improvements to existing local roads we do want to see and work with government and Buckinghamshire Council to agree what we need and want.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the government remained "committed to boosting transport links" in the area.

The expressway had been a key part of infrastructure plans since 2017, and the National Infrastructure Commission said the new road and the East West Rail project had to "be built as quickly as possible to unlock land for new homes", in the area known as the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

However, DfT said: "Extensive analysis and local engagement reveals the expressway would not be cost-effective for the taxpayer."

It added: "The benefits the road would deliver are outweighed by the costs associated with the project". 

DfT said it would "work on alternative plans" to the expressway alongside building the East West Rail scheme.

Environmental campaigners have been vociferous in their opposition to the scheme since day one.

Martin Tett, leader of Buckinghamshire Council, welcomed the decision to cancel the expressway which he said would "have torn a large hole across some of the most beautiful countryside in the county with little benefit to local residents".

"What we need is investment in local roads, used by local people to ease congestion, not another mega project that will just bring environmental destruction," he added.