Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has today (18 March 2021) announced the cancellation of the Oxford-Cambridge (Ox-Cam) expressway.
Highways England had been developing potential options for a road link between Oxford and Milton Keynes. However, following close work with local partners since 2014, recent analysis shows that the benefits the road would deliver are outweighed by the costs associated with the project.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
“The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is home to cutting-edge research, globally renowned science and technology clusters and some of the most productive places in the country – we want to make sure it has transport fit for such an important region.
“Our analysis shows the expressway cannot deliver such links in a way that provides value for money for the taxpayer, so I have taken the decision to cancel the project. But we remain committed to boosting transport links in the area, helping us to create jobs and build back better from coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We will continue to work on more targeted, localised road improvements to boost transport in the region, alongside the transformational East West Rail, in which we have invested £760 million to deliver the next phase.”
The Department for Transport will now investigate the need for more targeted road interventions in the area.
[Updated 16:55 18/3/2021] In a statement, CPRE Bedfordshire said:
“CPRE Bedfordshire strongly welcomes the Secretary of State’s decision and we are glad he has listened to us and others. Building this road would have been in complete contradiction to the Government’s commitments to protecting heritage and tackling the climate and nature emergencies. We now hope that Robert Jenrick will similarly commit to a complete rethink of the unsustainable proposals by the National Infrastructure Commission to build a million houses in the area which stretches from Oxford to Cambridge, known as the OxCam Arc, which includes vast swathes of open countryside in Bedfordshire.
“CPRE Bedfordshire also remains concerned about the decision to make Route E the preferred route for East West Rail. We support an electrified route B and would like to see this option be given further consideration and consultation. Route E will cause serious environmental pollution to town residents and lead to the destruction of the hugely important North Bedfordshire countryside and the Great Ouse Valley, opening it up to the development of new towns.”