Keith Taylor, the Green MEP for the South East, has written a scathing letter to the Chief Executive of Highways England criticising the lack of a public consultation on the proposed route of the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, which the senior Green politician claims breaches international environmental law.
In his letter, Mr Taylor, who has long-opposed the 'environment-destructive' roadbuilding projected while supporting a 'regionally important' electrified East-West rail link, outlines how the Expressway contravenes the international Aarhus convention. The convention, to which the UK as a member of the EU is signed up, requires signatories to ensure there is meaningful public participation in major decisions which impact upon the environment.
Keith, a member of the European Parliament's Environment and Transport Committees, 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."
"It is a clear contravention of the Aarhus convention, not to mention patently anti-democratic, not to allow the public to have their say on the proposed route of the Expressway. Wherever it is situated, it will have a significant impact on local residents, their communities, their air quality and the environment."
"I am opposed to Ministers' wrongheaded roadbuilding agenda. Even the Government's own National Infrastructure Committee admits roadbuilding projects like the proposed Expressway will only encourage more car journeys and increase congestion. I am calling for any money set aside for this project be invested in raising the profile of the East-West rail link, electrifying the route and promoting genuinely sustainable, and integrated, transport alternatives."
"Nevertheless, while the Expressway process is still in motion, it is vital it is urgently opened up to the public. I am calling on Highways England to do that by launching a full statutory public consultation followed by a Public Inquiry into both the Oxford-Cambridge Growth Corridor and Expressway to examine their environmental, social and economic impacts. Ultimately, these impacts will affect lives and only a truly participatory process respects that fact."