My vision for our county is that it continues to be predominantly rural, as it is now. Whilst there must be of course be growth to provide the houses people need, and maintain the full employment we enjoy, this must not be at the unnecessary expense of the environment we treasure.

The National Infrastructure Commission has a very different vision of a ‘once-in-a-generation-opportunity’, as they call it, for Oxfordshire to be part of an intensive Growth Corridor.

To give an idea of the scale of what is intended, Oxfordshire presently has 280,000 dwellings and the plan is to increase this to 600,000. That is equivalent to every settlement more than doubling in size, or another six Oxfords, or two Liverpools.

On top of which they anticipate 25 per cent of the new houses across the corridor going to commuters. It will be far higher in Oxfordshire, where more new rail links to London are being constructed, and, since London commuters will be likely to outbid local people, the result will be to put house prices further out of reach.

Of course, a change on this scale should involve public consultation with those whose lives are to be blighted, and a public inquiry to decide whether it was justified, as CPRE, the Expressway Action Group, and even a majority of county councillors have demanded.

These demands have all fallen on deaf ears. The big battalions are lined up on the other side.

The Government has signed up to the scheme. Local authorities are handing over strategic planning to the unelected Growth Board (the clue is in the name), and in any case are dependent on Government handouts. This has reached absurd proportions with the current ‘Growth Deal’, where local authorities are taking Government money to dig up the countryside and Green Belt in order to build 60 per cent more houses than even the Government itself considers to be needed.

We must continue to urge that the whole damaging scheme is brought before a public inquiry, but at the same time strive to mitigate the damage it would cause.

Higher building densities are part of the answer by using land efficiently. The less land they use, the less expensive the dwellings, and higher density also makes for more integrated communities and minimal car use.

The extent of the countryside lost to the Growth Corridor will also be determined by its road and rail infrastructure.

The National Infrastructure Commission says the main development East of Oxford should be around the fixed line of East West rail, Bicester to Cambridge, but have left the Expressway routing through Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire open.

CPRE say new roads only create more traffic, and users of the M25 may agree. In this case the very purpose of the Expressway is to facilitate development and create new traffic.

According to Highways England there are three viable routes. All would be harmful but not by any means to the same degree.

The A34 is the least expensive option, involves the least new road, and it needs some upgrading anyway. Both the alternative routes involve driving a brand new road through the Green Belt and countryside south of Oxford.

Of course, whichever route is chosen, important environmental sites like Otmoor can be detoured.

The main thing right now is to do all we can to stop a new Expressway south of Oxford, across the open Green Belt and its distinctive villages, unnecessarily exposing the countryside to the concrete mixers.

Time is short. Highways England will make a decision this summer, when politicians will have to endorse it.

It is Our Oxfordshire. We have little time to save it.