Multi-million pound plans for a controversial road scheme in south Oxfordshire were refused today (July 18) in a bombshell decision.

Oxfordshire County Council's planning committee voted against the £269 million HIF1 Didcot relief road despite recommendations from planning officers that it should be approved.

After two full days of discussion, seven committee members voted against the scheme while just two were in favour.

The proposals included building a dual carriageway on the A4130 from the A34 Milton Interchange towards Didcot, new bridges, and a Clifton Hampden bypass.

Supporters of the project said it would provide more sustainable travel options, reduce congestion in villages, and improve air quality and noise levels.

But many have objected to the scheme, labelling it “financially risky and climate-wrecking.”

The committee’s reasons for refusal were less about the principle of the scheme and more about its details.

A particular focus was on the outdated traffic modelling data, which used figures from 2016/17 and did not consider the traffic impact on Abingdon or Nuneham Courtenay.

There were also questions over the detailed design of the bridges included in the plans, including the major bridge over the river Thames near Culham.

The committee also believed the council’s own Local Transport and Connectivity Plan had not been properly applied.

Further issues were raised about the impact on noise pollution, air quality, and climate change, as well as if there was enough mitigation for the loss of trees.

Councillor Yvonne Constance, a former cabinet member for environment and transport, was among the two members to vote for the scheme.

She said: "I'm very disappointed because they have rejected it on the grounds of wanting to have a bit more information that does not change the basic decision. 

"They wanted a bit more information about 'this and that' but they are going to have to make a decision eventually on how to supply the necessary infrastructure.

"Some dream that they will not need a road and that is absurd."

Sam Casey-Rerhaye is a parish councillor for Culham, near where one of the bridges  would have been built. 

She said: "I'm very pleased as I thought it was the wrong plan for the situation we're in with the climate emergency. 

"Now it's about going back to the drawing board."

The decision was also welcomed by environmental group Oxford Friends of the Earth, who have long been opposed to the scheme.

Member Chris Church said: “This plan flew in the face of the council's own policies and offered no proper solutions to the problems in the Didcot area.

"We congratulate all the local villagers who worked so hard on this and their legal advisers. We also applaud the integrity of the councillors who stood up to oppose this."

The decision leaves the expensive plans, which were proposed when the Conservatives had control of the council, with an uncertain future.

Cllr Duncan Enright, cabinet member for travel and development strategy, said: “We are naturally disappointed by the decision, and we’ll now take stock of the committee’s comments and reasons.”