OXFORDSHIRE is in crisis.

Its population is increasing but schools are cutting staff to cope with financial pressure, and community hospital wards in Wantage and Oxford are closing because of lack of nurses.

Air pollution in the county is increasing as bus services are cut, and the roads overflow with cars as people try to get to work, often far away from home.

Last week, Bicester GPs presented their ideas about how they might possibly cope with the burgeoning population on the new estates given the shortage of doctors. It’s a problem now, yet the building of the 13,000 houses and 18,500 jobs proposed for Bicester in the Cherwell Local Plan 2031 has hardly started.

The Wretchwick Green development with 1,500 houses and 3,000 jobs and the office park which is proposed to have 6,000 employees have not started yet.

The building of the Bicester Gateway ‘science park’ has just started. It will eventually have 3,500 jobs on offer.

The north-west ‘eco-town’ development will end up with 6,000 houses and 3,000 jobs, but so far not even the 395 house ‘exemplar phase’ is complete.

In addition, the Graven Hill development is in its embryonic stage but will grow into 2,100 houses and 2,000 jobs. Bicester Heritage plan a hotel, houses and lodges for the many thousands of visitors they expect at the old airfield.

One would tend to say enough is enough given that we are facing the threefold environmental crises of biodiversity loss, air pollution and climate change. Alarm bells should ring at the fact that global carbon dioxide levels on May 11 topped a record 415 parts per million, far higher than they ever have been since humans evolved.

Yet the proposed growth in the Local Plan 2031 is nothing compared to what is looming on the horizon.

The National Infrastructure Commission is pushing forward its scheme for a development arc between Oxford and Cambridge. If this goes ahead, housing estates will mushroom all over the county. This is no exaggeration.

Data from Highways England Corridor Assessment Report (CAR) show that they plan levels of growth that are even more out of proportion to local needs than those in the Local Plan 2031. One aspect shows proposals for a staggering 50,000 jobs at Wendlebury and 38-45,000 jobs at a different unspecified site ‘south of Bicester’ if route B1/C1 of the Ox-Cam expressway is chosen.

Oxfordshire’s environment has never been under such a threat. To petition against the Ox-Cam arc go to https://bit.ly/2LgXgLv