The campaign to save Otmoor continues. Expressway Story by Jonathan and Elsie Barker
For months we have been campaigning to stop the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway from threatening Otmoor. On Sept 12th the government announced that it had reprieved Otmoor by choosing an alternative development corridor which you can see on a map in the link below:
Specifically, the report to parliament by the Road Minister states: The choice of this corridor means that the government has ruled out construction in the area of the Otmoor nature reserve, underlining its desire to protect the natural environment.
However, on January 11th the Roads Minister Jesse Norman MP said the following in a parliamentary Adjournment debate on the expressway, called by Layla Moran (Lib Dem Oxford West/Abingdon):
""As I said, we haven't made any pre-judgements. Our very strong preference is not to cross Otmoor. We have therefore selected options that do not do that. We have given that very clear signal. But it's important to say that we are still at the relatively early stage of the process and therefore our preferred routes are just that, and subject to further discussions, consultation and review. The Government and Highways England need to do serious further analytical work to develop, design and route options that are workable for the communities and the environment that facilitate movement and that ease travel for people both working and at leisure. As has been mentioned, there are considerable constraints in relation to Oxford, of many different kinds, and these are part of the wider process of evaluation...."
Which seems a long way of saying that Otmoor is not quite as safe as we thought.
Meanwhile, of course, even if Otmoor is not directly crossed, the western 'preferred' corridor around Oxford could endanger its northern fringes, and other communities and environments face a continuing threat as the exact route of the new road has yet to be defined.
For those of you who believe that the proposed corridor is a bad choice or that the road should not be built at all, there are two campaigns that you can support:
The Expressway Action Group:
The No Expressway Alliance:
One of Otmoor's most endangered and beautiful animals filmed by Steve de Vere in May 2018
This extraordinary starling murmuration was filmed on Otmoor March 7th, 2017
The chequerboard shapes of Otmoor were inspiration for Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass
The authors Eveyln Waugh, Aldous Huxley, R.D Blackmore, John Buchan and Susan Hill have all been inspired by Otmoor
Otmoor by Rupert Carruthers
Many great artists have painted the landscape of Otmoor
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Thanks to the still wild state of Otmoor, Horton-cum-Studley and the Ragnalls Lane area is one of the very few places in southern England - indeed in all of Europe - where you can still see the Milky Way galaxy arcing overhead on a clear night. I know this because I go stargazing around the village most nights. According to recent statistics, a horrifying 99% of Europeans cannot see the Milky Way where they live because of light pollution. Horton-cum-Studley is part of that precious 1%. As such, the area should perhaps be registered as a Dark Sky Sanctuary or something similar. FK
I am absolutely incensed that the government could even contemplate driving a road through Otmoor. What is the world coming to? I have been visiting Otmoor for over twenty years and in that time I have seen so many amazing things. In fact, I was there just a few weeks ago and saw six cuckoos chasing each other across one of the fields. Imagine that! If that wasn’t enough, I also scotched up a bittern, two common cranes, and three marsh harriers. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. How many other places in this country can offer such an abundance of wildlife? Answer - fewer and fewer places as the years roll on. Sadly, this government seems intent on covering every scrap of countryside in concrete and tarmac despite all of its promises about putting the environment at the heart of the decision making process. It’s okay for other countries to have wildlife but not the British it seems. What is the point in the RSPB investing millions of pounds in a nature reserve if the government can come along and drive a road through it at the drop of a hat? Enough is enough. When are we going to wake up to the ecological crisis that has befallen our country? Populations of once common birds in free fall - turtle doves, cuckoos, swifts all heading for oblivion. Butterflies so thin on the ground that the sight of just one becomes memorable. When are we going to start to place any sort of value on the natural world? We should be protecting what’s left not doing our level best to destroy it. Please don’t destroy Otmoor. It’s such a special place and is loved by so many. Finally, I would like the decision makers to reflect on the words of Chief Seattle before cutting the first sod. “All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man does not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.” AMJ
Sadly, as always, the indifferent decisions of government will affect a natural way of life and upset the delicate balance of nature that has existed (quite nicely) for centuries. The problems that the combustion engine and the historical bad decisions made by the law makers have and will continue to destroy this country and the way the rest of the world see us. Make laws that uphold our continued love, aspirations and way of life, not keep putting plasters over what should be seen as a major trauma. Let’s start fighting back and showing we feel deeply about the way we are being coerced and bullied and that we truly love our country. RS
Please protect Otmoor. It was worth protecting 40 years ago, even more is it worth protecting now. And transparency on the how the road may connect to routes farther westwards is much needed to be sure that the national picture isn't lost. Will it lead to an upgrade of the A40 though the Cotswolds (a possible new National Park) or the A420 to Swindon? And shouldn't the expressway route only be agreed once the Oxford-Cambridge rail-link is approved, to be sure whether rail is or isn't adequate connectivity? JA
I'm sorry to see that as a non-UK resident I am unable to sign this petition. My brother lives in Littlemore and I've had many wonderful visits exploring and enjoying the UK landscapes. How people can contemplate destroying places so beautiful beats me! Here in Australia I watch our own stupid government continue to mine coal, and to want to open up new coal fields when all evidence shows that water supplies will be contaminated and - worst of all - our precious Great Barrier Reef is growing daily more degraded and under extreme threat. People across the world should be able to voice their concerns and PROTEST wherever our environment is threatened. Good luck with your efforts. BF
Otmoor is one of the most hopeful stories of people's mobilisation for wildlife and biocultural diversity in North Oxfordshire. We will not let it get destroyed for short-sighted, blind, unintelligent, greedy policy decisions. Let's fight for the future of Otmoor and all of us! LT
If we cannot preserve such limited wildlife areas that we have in this country such as Otmoor, how on earth can we complain when others destroy habitats such as rain forests? We should be setting the right examples!! DP
Oxford, a place where some of the cleverest brains in the world and government come from , are now in parliament thinking its a clever idea to put a motorway through one of the most important European sites for red listed species. That is obviously not intelligent at all. HR
We cannot allow our beautiful Otmoor to be carved up by yet another unnessary 'expressway'. The NIMBY government will, yet again, sit behind closed doors and vote for this to go ahead, without a single thought for the consequences of their actions. TC
I am incensed that the idea of destroying such a huge haven for endangered red listed species has even been discussed let alone actually planned. Insane. Do we really need a motorway between two university towns? When will people realise that progress isn't progress when we loose all our heritage for future generations, not just ours but the flora and fauna. I can't imagine Ottmoor No more! , such a special place, been going since the 1990s and it keeps getting better and better. Yours seriously worried and angered, HR
This can not be allowed to happen, the benefits you get from a visit to this place can not be measured, there are so few places in central England were nature ,(with a little help) can not only survive ,but flourish. Almost everywhere else ,it is in decline. BD
This is outrageous madness! For all the same reasons that the M40 didn't go over Otmoor, butterflies and un-exploded ordinance and surprising amounts of very soggy clay. JGH
Over the last decade the RSPB has made enormous progress in re developing the habitat around Otmoor to attract extremely rare species of ground meeting birds. Birds like the Bittern and Marsh Harrier are now breeding again at Otmoor after a gap of many years. Please do not reverse such ground breaking progress in Central England Conservation by building the Expressway in this region. Otmoor is a true treasure which we should all be celebrating not threatening. JT
As a regular visitor to Otmoor (at least once every six weeks) I love the variety and abundance of animal life. That a government which pretends to prioritise the environment could even contemplate building a highway through Otmoor is contemptible. Please do everything possible by legal means to prevent this act of licensed thuggery from happening. JW
This project would be a disaster for Otmoor setting back our wildlife heritage for generations if not for ever. Approach roads through ancient woodlands would have the same effect. These cannot be replaced. This is constructive vandalism. PM
Otmoor is a unique wildlife area in the South Midlands that would be destroyed if a major trunk road were to be built across or close to this special area. It provides residents of towns and cities from the Midlands to London with an area of remoteness that is not available elsewhere. This ancient fen is also home to over sixty rare and protected species that would be at risk if the proposed major trunk road was to be built. The importance of retaining habitat such as this exceptional area cannot be overemphasised so that our children can continue to enjoy this diversity of wildlife. SW
Basically I just love the place to bits, I first visited some 25 years ago when it was under construction with the NorthBucks RSBP Group, we were shown around the muddy site and the reserves development plans. To see its magical transformation into the exceptional sets of habitats it now provides for the wildlife it supports now is extraordinary. It provides so much pleasure to so many people it would a complete travesty to destroy even a blade of its grass. This part of the plan is totally outrageous... Save Otmoor, it’s the true way forward. PW
This is so important in terms of green space and wildlife. And the idea of noise and disturbance from yet another dual carriageway is horrific. We are already bound to the northeast and southwest by the M40 and A34. Let’s fight to preserve the beauty and peace of magical Otmoor. Here is some musical inspiration https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwIrLH_IOKs AM
I can't see how any road is so vital that it needs to be built over such an beautiful area. I always see deer, hares, foxes, buzzards, skylarks. Many species of birds and butterflies throughout the year. What about these animals? Why do our decision makers choose to destroy this unique landscape with another road when we don't even have money to up keep the roads and services we already have. Progress should be measured by the care we take of our environment for future generations. You will never bring the wildlife back once it has gone. CW