IT REMAINS unclear when a long-awaited consultation into potential routes for the Oxford-Cambridge expressway will start or how long it will last.

The controversial road linking the prestigious university cities could cost as much as £7bn by the time it is finished in 2030.

Highways England said it had hoped to open the consultation in the autumn – but it has still yet to confirm any other details.

The road is unpopular with many residents but in particular those in South Oxfordshire, who fear it could cut across Green Belt land, and others in the Vale of White Horse. They are concerned it could lead to the demolition of houses in Botley.

A Highways England spokesman said: “We haven’t confirmed a date for the consultation yet. We’ll confirm the duration when we announce the date.

“We’re still finalising the route options to present to the public so can’t yet confirm how many there’ll be.”

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Layla Moran, Oxford West and Abingdon’s Lib Dem MP, has been a constant critic.

Last October she took then transport minister Jesse Norman on a trip around Botley to show areas that she worries could be ruined by any new road.

Debby Hallett, Vale council’s deputy leader, has written to Ms Moran, Wantage MP Ed Vaizey and new transport secretary Grant Shapps to formally oppose any expressway.

She wrote: “The council has numerous reservations regarding this project and the impacts it will have upon our district.

“We remain gravely disappointed by the lack of public consultation and engagement relating to the expressway."

The authority said the money should be spent on improving the East West Rail link, cycling infrastructure and other public transport.

She added: “The council particularly notes that there has been a lack of clarity from the government regarding the need and desirability of this project and, therefore, is unconvinced that such a proposal is the most effective way to enhance connectivity across the Arc.”

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The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is an area designated by the government to include Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

It has said it is already a ‘globally significant place and has the potential to become even greater’ in the future.