To consider the new Notice of Motion attached as an appendix.
The Chairman of the Council informed Members that as Councillor Lyons had declared a prejudicial interest, Councillor Stuchbury would be moving the motion on his behalf.
The following was proposed by Councillor Stuchbury and seconded by Councillor Bateman:-
“Council notes that the UK Government, in tandem with the National Infrastructure Commission, has proposed the construction of a motorway style expressway between Oxford and Cambridge. This new road will have significant adverse impacts on Aylesbury Vale.
Depending on the eventual route, the expressway could destroy farmland and habitats, including an SSSI. Construction projects should result in biodiversity net gains. However the “gained” biodiversity may not be the same as that which has been lost. Some, such as ancient woodland is irreplaceable. Infrastructure providers will offer to offset the negative impact in one place by protecting or replacing biodiversity elsewhere, which is of little benefit to local residents or wildlife.
The Council does not support the construction of another motorway such as the expressway at a time of climate emergency. Transport accounts for one third of all carbon emissions in the UK and the figure has only dropped by 3.2% since 1990. The expressway will increase CO2 emissions, which is incompatible with the Government’s declared target of reducing emissions to net zero by 2050, and will bring more traffic onto the County’s existing roads.
The Council believes that the expressway will cause major harm to the quality of life of Vale residents as it passes through the District. The additional noise from the expressway will be significant as well as increased air pollution from NOx, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter.
The Council was right not to sign a non disclosure agreement with Highways England.
Highways England’s own analysis of the expressway shows a low benefit cost ratio (BCR) in the range of 1.1 – 1.3.
This Council fully supports the East-West Rail route, with full electrification and use of the rail line for freight as part of the strategic rail network, offering direct connections to the West Coast Mainline.
Council therefore resolves to:-
· Oppose the expressway project and support the electrification of the East-West Rail route for passenger and freight traffic as part of the strategic rail network. We should encourage these intermodal connections to East-West Rail to discourage long distance freight by road.
· Support better east west public transport and active rail solutions.
· Adopt this position on the expressway in the future consultation on the route options from Highways England.
· Continue to support environmental partnership working, particularly the work of the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership, and continue to promote these elements as vital mitigation if the expressway does progress.”
In accordance with Council Procedure Rules, the Chairman had agreed that the Motion should be dealt with at this meeting.
Councillor Stuchbury explained briefly the rationale behind the Motion after which it was opened up to debate.
It was thereupon proposed by Councillor Lambert and seconded by Councillor Christensen:-
“That the motion be amended by the inclusion of an additional recommendation as follows:-
“That the Council writes to local MPs to express our dismay, and to outline to them the 4 bullet points in the motion, and to ask for their support in the Council’s endeavours”.”
After an explanation of the rationale for the amendment, it was opened up to debate. At the conclusion of the debate it was put to the vote and declared to be CARRIED.
The motion, as amended, was then put to the vote as the substantive motion and declared to be CARRIED.
That the Council –
(1) Opposes the expressway project and supports the electrification of the East-West Rail route for passenger and freight traffic as part of the strategic rail network. This includes to encourage these intermodal connections to East-West Rail and to discourage long distance freight by road.
(2) Supports better east west public transport and active rail solutions.
(3) Adopts this position on the expressway in the future consultation on the route options from Highways England.
(4) Continues to support environmental partnership working, particularly the work of the Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Natural Environment Partnership, and continues to promote these elements as vital mitigation if the expressway does progress.
(5) Writes to local MPs to express the Council’s dismay, and to outline to them the points detailed in resolutions (1)-(4), and to ask for their support in the Council’s endeavours.
NOTE: Councillor Lyons declared a prejudicial interest as he was employed by Network Rail. He left the Council Chamber whilst the notice of motion was being considered.