THE controversial Oxfordshire to Cambridge Expressway has moved a step closer, after the government announced their preferred 'corridor' for development. 

But the plans has been labelled a 'disaster' and widely criticised by a host of campaigners, politicians, environmental groups and councils.

After a review by Highways England, it has opted to back Corridor B, suggesting it 'outperforms the other options by providing better links to jobs, education, leisure and health services'.

The £3.5 billion expressway, which could pass either to the west or east of Oxford, is scheduled to open in 2030.

Oxford City Council leader Susan Brown said: "This opaque process does little to reduce uncertainty for people in Oxford and those that travel to work here. It remains wholly unclear which side of Oxford the final route will take, let alone how the Expressway might help reduce the congestion on the overstretched A34 and A40."

Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the South East, added: "The Oxford Expressway is a monumental disaster and act of environmental sabotage. The way this decision has been handled, without any consultation with the local communities directly impacted by it, is in direct contravention of the UK's international legal obligations.

"The Expressway itself is a wrongheaded and profoundly irresponsible pursuit that will put more cars on our roads, spewing out toxic fumes, and do so at the expensive of our precious environment. All at the cost of several billion pounds of taxpayers' money." 

Promoting the decision to opt for corridor B, ahead of a full public consultation to be held next year, Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “This Expressway will enhance both transport connectivity and growth across the region for the benefit of the UK as a whole.”

However, the plans have caused outrage from a number of local campaign groups, who have expressed strong opposition to the proposals.

The No Expressway Alliance suggests there is 'no need for the road' and no ‘best’ or ‘least worst’ route.

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick, defended the route.

He said: “The Oxford to Cambridge arc is one of the greatest opportunities for economic growth in Europe. We want to realise that potential by investing in the new infrastructure the area needs and the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway is an important part of our plan.

“The Expressway will provide a link between two of the country’s intellectual powerhouses and open up vital jobs, skills and housing opportunities to transform the region’s economy."

For full coverage, read tomorrow's Oxford Mail.