TWO councils plan to put no money aside to contribute to a consultation on the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, even though it is due to start this year.

A public consultation on the route options for the road will start in the autumn, with a preferred route set to be announced next year.

Currently, some residents in South Oxfordshire are worried the new road could plough through about 20 miles of Green Belt.

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Others in the Vale of White Horse district could see their homes demolished to make way for the expressway if the A34 around the Botley Interchange is expanded for it.

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Last September, the leader of South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) Jane Murphy said she was ‘disappointed’ the Government had chosen not to bring ‘clarity or certainty’ over where the expressway might go.

Transport minister Jesse Norman had announced two possibilities – that the road might go broadly south of Oxford or that it might cut west of the city.

At the time, Vale of White Horse District Council leader Roger Cox said the authority had ‘particular concerns about the impact on communities and the environment if the Government proposes the route to the west of Oxford’.

He said he wanted the council to ‘get the opportunity to discuss’ any impact with the Government.

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But both authorities’ budgets, which are set to be passed next week, note neither will put money aside for 2019/20 because councils’ ‘view and response to this issue cannot be determined at this time’.

The councils share staff and the passage is the same in each budget document.

It states: “Highways England is currently working on proposals for a new expressway road between Oxford and Cambridge.

"An announcement on preferred route options expected later in 2019.

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“Depending upon the route selected, the council may choose to take part in public engagement and inquiry processes at which point costs may be incurred.”

It continues: “No budget has been created in 2019/20 for potential costs nor have potential costs been reflected in the medium term financial plan as the council’s view and response to this issue cannot be determined at this time.”

Depending on routes, the expressway could cost from about £4bn to about £7bn. It will be built in stages between the two university cities by 2030.

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Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran said on Thursday that the expressway has the potential to ‘wreck the environment’.

She raised the new road on Wednesday with David Lidington, who stood in for Theresa May at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Earlier this month, Oxford City Council agreed to an anti-expressway motion proposed by Liberal Democrat group leader Andrew Gant.

He said had been told by Highways England that the definition of ‘expressway’ is ‘pending’.