A proposed new dual carriageway which will run between Oxford and Cambridge has been criticised for the potential damage it would cause to a local nature reserve.
The RSPB has said that the expressway would pose a serious threat to the Otmoor Nature Reserve and its wetlands.
Calling the proposed route a “disastrous outcome for nature”, a spokesperson for the RSPB has explained that certain species of bat, butterfly and wetland bird could be endangered by the large road.
Bechstein’s bats are one of the rarest and endangered species in the UK – an estimated 1,000 bats populate areas in the south of England – and black hairstreaks are one of the rarest butterflies in the UK. Both species could be put under threat.
A campaign group, the “Expressway Action Group”, has been set up by Oxfordshire residents to protest the damage that the route could have on the area’s green belt.
The group is supported by 34 Oxfordshire parish councils and has put signs up along the proposed route reading slogans such as “Green belt not commuter belt” and “Trees not tarmac”.
The Expressway is a proposed new road which would run from the A34 to the A14, near Cambridge, running via Milton Keynes. It is hoped that it would complete the missing link between the M1 and the M40.
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) gave cause for its construction in 2016 after producing a study on the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor.
The government has identified the corridor as one of the most significant areas of growth in the country. It is hoped that the construction of the road will contribute to the growth of housing and employment.
The NIC, in its “partnering for prosperity” report, described the three major areas of this development as being some of the “fastest growing, innovative, and productive” locations in the UK.
However, they explain that, at the current time, “poor east-west connectivity” is leading to “restricted interaction between these economies”, and further economic growth is threatened by journey times, congestion and housing unaffordability.
Housing Secretary Sajid Javid is expected to approve the creation of up to five new towns along this route in the coming weeks after discussing the proposal in The Sunday Times in March.
Stakeholders are currently being consulted by Highways England, on behalf of the Department for Transport, to gain opinions about which “corridor” between the two university towns is the most preferred.