A significant objection has been raised to a major road plan with critics saying the proposals are "short-sighted".

The Environmental Agency voiced flooding-related concerns in response to plans for a relief road in Watlington which would direct traffic away from the town high street and provide an alternative route and direct access to the B4009 either side of Watlington.

Applicant Oxfordshire County Council has said the aim is to reduce congestion, noise and air pollution in the town centre and to enable future housing developments with more cycling and walking options.

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High street traders have raised objections to the application on the basis they will no longer benefit from passing trade.

Oxford Mail: Watlington Relief Road plan.Watlington Relief Road plan. (Image: Oxfordshire County Council.)

Other objections have also been made.

Chris Church, chairman of the Oxfordshire Roads Action Alliance, said: "We welcome the objection from the Environment Agency (EA).

"They make the point that if this road is built, the flooding on local roads will increase and there is a risk to groundwater quality that is unacceptable.

"On this basis, the EA has objected that planning permission is refused.

"We have seen this spring record levels of flooding and there is every possibility we are going to see more in the future.

Oxford Mail: Watlington High Street.Watlington High Street. (Image: Loraine Daniels.)

"Building roads that make this problem worse is unbelievably short-sighted."

Oxfordshire County Council is the lead local flood authority, issuing flood alerts and coordinating information on flooding across the county.

Liberal Democrat councillor Freddie van Mierlo, of the Chalgrove and Watlington division, said: "The Watlington Relief Road scheme delivers significant benefits to active travel including the closing of a known rat-run through Watlington to create a new active travel corridor.

"I'm aware that the applicant, Oxfordshire County Council, has already been in contact with the EA in developing this proposal.

Oxford Mail: Oxfordshire Liberal Democrats.Oxfordshire Liberal Democrats. (Image: N/A.)

"Of course, the purpose of a consultation is to gather input from statutory consultees like the EA, District Council, Sport England and parish councils.

"Therefore, before the planning application comes forward to the planning committee I hope that many of the comments, both those in support and those suggesting improvements, can be taken into account."

The EA has said it objects to the application due to its "unacceptable risk to the environment" but that the objection might be overcome if the county council addresses the points made.

Debbie Davies, member of the Oxfordshire Roads Action Alliance said: "The Environment Agency has warned since 2020 that the road would use the most flood zone two and three land compared to alternatives and has questioned if this route can be delivered.

Oxford Mail: Watlington.Watlington. (Image: Google Maps.)

"The county council that is applying to build it is also the lead local flood authority.

"If it can't meet the sequential test for why it has chosen a route through flood zone three a and b and the exception test without relying on shutting roads it has flooded, then planning permission should be refused."

Two roundabouts, three zebra crossings and walking and cycling infrastructure would form part of the relief road.