Residents concerned about an “oven-ready” road scheme and 1 million new homes that it could usher in were urged to get involved in the democratic process at a packed public meeting.
With the general election looming next Thursday (Dec 12) campaigners with the No Expressway Group (NEG) urged scores of members of the public to put pressure on candidates over the Oxford to Cambridge road and its possible route to the south of Milton Keynes.
“It is a general election issue,” said NEG chair Olivia Field at the standing-room-only meeting at the Mary Adams Hall, in Woburn Sands, on Tuesday evening. “Hold councillors, candidates and MPs to account over this.”
The meeting was told that although the exact route is yet to be decided, it looked likely that the route would take it from the south of Bletchley, through Woburn Sands, on to Brogborough, and then beyond to Bedford and Cambridge.
Campaigners fear that the project could see the public sidelined as it is seen as being of national significance. It also forms part of a housing growth strategy in the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge Arc that could see 1 million new homes, or “three towns the size of Buckingham.”
The NEG’s Professor David Rogers said the road would form a freight route from Felixstowe port to Southampton and take 1.3 million HGVs every year, or two every minute. He said it was “oven ready” to go next year.
The campaigners denied being NIMBIES. They want to see an electrified East West Rail, social housing not “affordable” housing, jobs transferred to the north of the UK and freight moved to rail.
“Plans on this scale will destroy the sense of place of those already living here,” said Prof Rogers. “Unless you do something, this WILL happen. Tell the politicians what you think, get them to listen.”
The meeting also heard that a new branch of the NEG has been set up in Woburn Sands, as part of a growing network of resistance to the massive project.
A range of councils have opposed the scheme and Milton Keynes Council has changed its position from supporting to support conditional on the East West Rail project being electrified, plus a range of other tests.
MK Council has signed a secrecy agreement with Highways England in order to find out details of the scheme. The project has been put on hold pending the outcome of the general election under “purdah” rules governing big announcements.