This guide was written by the No Expressway Group, based in Horton-cum-Studley, Oxford
There are now many organisations and groups campaigning against various aspects of the Oxford-Cambridge expressway. Below is a by-no-means exhaustive list of the major players, with a few notes of our interactions with them. The groups are given in more or less chronological order of their origins, or of interest in the expressway by already existing groups, such as CPRE, the Wildlife Trusts etc.
Expressway Action Group, EAG.
Peter Rutt of Cuddesdon became aware of the expressway threat long before most of us, and started the EAG in late 2017, originally focused to fight against the expressway in Corridor A only.
EAG states that it is against any new expressway, and instead promotes the use of existing roads for the expressway, i.e. the A34 around the West of Oxford City. Thus it favours what CPRE (see below) calls the ‘least worst’ option of using existing roads wherever possible.
EAG spread awareness of the expressway threat through the its website, and through talks at village meetings. It now claims a membership of 30 - 40 villages, mostly in the southern part of the expressway corridor, although this list has never been made public, nor made available to Highways England.
EAG is recognised by Highways England (HE) as an official Stakeholder (a list of interested parties, businesses, Local Enterprise partnerships, bus companies and potential investors in the expressway - including British/American Tobacco!). Stakeholders (only so far) are invited to periodic Highways England presentations on the expressway and give feedback. EAG has taken the position that Highways England would simply stop listening if it fought against the proposed expressway altogether, and that EAG would not be invited to future meetings with Highways England or other influential players in government. However, other stakeholders strongly against the expressway, such as Friends of the Earth (FoE), continue to be invited to Highways England’s meetings.
Originally, Stakeholders were the ONLY people allowed to feed into Highways England new information about any of the expressway corridors (e.g. new wildlife sites, or videos of otters etc.). The EAG therefore held the unique position of being the only portal through which anyone could submit such information. Although the Parish Council Chair of Horton-cum-Studley was also able to submit information to Highways England directly and acknowledged as a stakeholder. Seeking clarification of this issue the No Expressway Group made contact with Highways England, both via Freedom of Information requests and by talking with Matt Stafford (Project Director – Ox-Cam Expressway) and established that ANYBODY can submit information directly to Highways England (this is to Highways England’s advantage because Highways England's plans in the past have been stopped through incomplete knowledge of the local area through which it threatened to run a road - e.g. the A27 Arundel bypass). Highways England have responded to our request and now provided a link on the expressway project website to directly email or phone the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway Project Team. The link and address are given below:
Please do encourage anyone in your village and area to submit heritage data, wildlife information, requests for expressway information, requests for MORE public consultation etc. etc. to Highways England using the above email address. The more the better, and the sooner the better.
Although we can ALL submit information and questions to Highways England, this does not make any of us official Stakeholders, invited to HE’s restricted meetings.
Apart from the dubious companies, investors etc. on Highways England's stakeholder list, you will also find CPRE, FoE, BBOWT, the Ramblers' Club etc., and these, too, are invited to periodic Highways England meetings.
Campaign to Protect Rural England, CPRE
CPRE campaigns against un-necessary development of the countryside and is a strong critic of Oxon's inflated housing targets. CPRE did a brilliant analysis of Oxford's unmet housing needs and the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) that drove it:
The official CPRE position was given in a January 2019 press release that sets this out and argues for wide-scale public consultation on the growth and expressway proposals:
Early in 2018, CPRE produced a simple map showing possible routes of the expressway around Oxford. This map was published in the Four Parishes Newsletter (covering Beckley, Forest Hill, Horton-cum-Studley and Stanton St John) in early 2018. It was the first time we in Horton-cum-Studley became aware of the expressway threat and led very quickly to the foundation of the Horton-cum-Studley Expressway Group (now renamed the No Expressway Group (NEG), below).
Need not Greed Oxon, NNGO: Planning for Real Need not Spectacular Greed in Oxfordshire
As its name suggests, this group, chaired by Peter Jay and currently run out of the CPRE offices in Watlington, focuses only on Oxfordshire. It is a strong critic of what is happening to housing in Oxfordshire, and campaigns for more social housing. It produced a decent list of questions to ask of Councillors up for the recent elections in Oxon. You can find them here:
This campaign was started by Beckley villagers around about the same time as we founded the NEG. It produced a good website at a very early stage, and the ‘Save Otmoor’ petition that managed to get 10,000 signatures within the space of about 6 months or so.
The website has some excellent and charming Save Otmoor pictures done by the junior school children of Beckley School, and some beautiful landscape and wildlife videos made by Steve de Vere in 2018.
No Expressway Group, NEG, formerly known as the Horton-cum-Studley Expressway Group (HcSEG)
Peter Rutt of EAG and Michael Tyce (CPRE Trustee) came and gave a talk in our village (Horton-cum-Studley) in March 2018 and, very soon afterwards, we established the HcSEG. You can read about our activities in the past year or so by clicking the links at the top of this page.
The Campaign archive gives most detail of our activities to date:
It includes a couple of YouTube clips of two major events in 2018:
Riot at the Fair: https://youtu.be/Eq8eL8jxF_c
Walk the Moor: https://youtu.be/_-s7JWgAqkA
We will be Walking the Moor again in 2019 on July 7th. Please come and join us!
Last year we put up roadside posters across greater Otmoor and leafletted all seven Otmoor villages, as well as taking our expressway pagoda (information tent) to a number of local village fetes. We like to think that our activities plus those of many others, including Save Otmoor (above, caused a change in the original Corridor B to one that now excludes greater Otmoor (the area within the M40 loop around Oxford City).
We are members of EAG and NEA and some of our group are on NEA committees. Our group now has members from Horton-cum-Studley, Stanton St. John, Beckley, Elsfield, Charlton-on-Otmoor (Terry Pollard) and Forest Hill, so we are effectively a working group for the Otmoor region.
Additionally, we are in close contact with BBOWT, RSPB and CPRE.
This year, as we have examined the expressway threat in more detail, we have cast the net wider and contacted other villages in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire that we think are under particular threat (hence also our name change). We have had positive responses from all those villages who have replied so far (they have asked us to put up our campaign posters and have contributed to their costs, and we have spoken at several Village and Annual Parish Meetings).
You can contact us via this website.
No Expressway Alliance, NEA
This is an alliance of anti-expressway individuals and groups, under the umbrella of the local Friends of the Earth group. This group aims to catalyse the activities of local groups across the whole Oxford-Cambridge Arc, with the combined aim of cancelling the expressway and promoting East West Rail (EWR) as the alternative, more effective and less polluting form of public transport. The group, which was officially launched late in 2018, has a growing membership which now includes all Parishes and others that were already members of Need Not Greed Oxon (above). Within the NEA, there are many different single-interest groups from Oxford city concerned about global warming, re-cycling, water shortages, transport policy etc. etc. Extracting a common expressway theme, and aims to which all NEA members could subscribe, was initially tricky.
Friends of the Earth have an excellent record in campaigning against environmentally damaging projects such as the expressway. We have to thank FoE for its success, more than 40 years ago, at preventing the M40 from running right through Otmoor. As a result, the M40 was diverted to run around the outside of what we now call ‘greater Otmoor’, an area that includes the RSPB Reserve, several SSSIs and Ancient Woodlands including Bernwood Forest. Many of these areas were declared SSSIs, or made into Reserves, after this M40 decision, emphasising that even today we cannot assume that all precious wildlife areas are sufficiently recognised and protected.
NEA held an important Expressway meeting in Bicester in March 2019, funded by the FoE London HQ.
The NEA anti-expressway campaign is not yet a national FoE campaign, although its CEO, Craig Bennett, told us that he would like to make it so. We think that more concern shown about the expressway over a wider area could well tip the balance here.
North Otmoor No Expressway, NONE
This was started by Terry Pollard of Charlton-on-Otmoor Parish Council. Terry also now runs the NEA Campaigns sub-committee and is active there.
NONE was the first Oxon group to make an effort to contact villages over the Oxon border into Bucks and invited several to very well-attended meetings in Charlton in 2018 and 2019.
Buckinghamshire Expressway Action Group, BEAG
Deborah Lovatt single-handedly set up the impressive BEAG website here:
BEAG were originally members of the EAG and has now set up a separate Buckinghamshire organisation.
Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust, BBOWT, and The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire, BCNWT
Wildlife Trusts are very concerned about the loss of habitats the expressway plus houses involve. They highlight these disadvantages but seem reluctant to come out against the expressway altogether. They appear to be adopting a milder form of 'least worst' option, pointing out that Corridor B – the Highways England preferred Corridor - threatens more sites than other corridors.
Our No Expressway Group (at that time known as HcSEG) first realised that Highways England is in contravention of the Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) regulations (and the Aarhus Convention) to which the UK Govt is a signatory and obtained some pro bono advice from FTB Chambers via Emma Mortlake of the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF). Their solicitor, Merrow Golden, agreed with our initial assessment and wrote to Highways England challenging this lack of an SEA. Highways England brushed this aside but ELF/FTB persevered. We passed on all of this information and legal contacts to BBOWT (because it began to look to us that pursuing this on our own would be very expensive) and they took up launching a (crowd-funded) Judicial Review challenge of Highways England's handling of expressway plans. A February 2019 High Court decision agreed with the Judicial Review challenge, and so this is going ahead. Details can be found on this page of the BBOWT site: