THE lack of consultation on where the potential £3.5bn Oxford to Cambridge expressway could be built is illegal, an MEP has claimed.

Keith Taylor, a Green MEP for the South East, said the lack of a potential public consultation of the proposed road breaches international environmental law.

He said many constituents want to comment on the possible path of the road now – but Highways England said it will only give people the opportunity to object once it has chosen its favoured route.

Three broad paths for the new road were unveiled in 2016, with opponents worried it might carve through the Oxfordshire green belt for up to 22 miles.

Oxford Mail: If option one is chosen, the Expressway could follow a route similar to this.

In a letter to Highways England’s chief executive, Jim O’Sullivan, Mr Taylor said the agency was breaching the Aarhus convention by ‘not allowing public participation in the initial decision making concerning the route, as wherever it is situated, it will have a significant impact on local residents.’

Mr Taylor said: “The Expressway is being driven by a Conservative government with an infrastructure agenda routed in the last century.

“That, however, is no excuse for Highways England’s disgraceful and potentially illegal decision to try to push ahead with the environment-destructive project without first consulting the public.”

He said money should be ploughed into the East-West rail project and into providing public transport instead.

Oxford Mail:

It is thought the currently preferred route would see a new carriageway branch off from the A34 and pass between Oxford and Abingdon, before crossing the M40 at Wheatley and off towards Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

Mr Taylor also backed plans for a public inquiry, calls which have been made by Oxfordshire County Council and the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.

Although Highways England has held meetings with stakeholder groups, such as the CPRE, to discuss the broad paths of the possible route, it is understood these are invite-only.

Michael Tyce, of the CPRE, said Highways England’s current plans were like ‘trying to nail jelly to a wall’.

He said: “[Highways England] are very charming people but I think their mission is to let as little slip as possible about what they’re planning.”

“By the time we get to the public inquiry about the final route, Oxfordshire’s fate will have already been sealed about 18 months earlier.”

Highways England spokesman Howard Rhoades said: “Since November 2016, when three broad options for a proposed Oxford to Cambridge expressway were published we’ve been taking forward more detailed work to help further design and analysis.

"We are committed to a full consultation process so that people can help shape the plans.

“We thank Mr Taylor for his letter and will respond to him in detail on the points he raises.”

For an in-depth look at the possible routes, see here