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Column 20th October 2021

People vote no for the Arc

I’ve mentioned the Government consultation on their plans for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc before but as Professor David Rogers of the Stop the Arc (STARC) Campaign said
‘The government’s consultation assumes acceptance of the Ox-Cam Arc, and merely asks questions about how it should be imposed on communities’
‘It limits the ability to offer views on the need for the Arc, on levelling-up, on the desirability of building over the natural environment. We wanted a wider and fairer measure of people’s views and feelings.’

The official Government consultation document didn’t mention the levels of growth in jobs, houses and economic output that this Whitehall-driven Arc plan involves (about 1,000,000 new homes in case you hadn’t heard).

In response, STARC and Planning Oxfordshire’s Environment and Transport Sustainably (POETS) launched their own survey which presented respondents with some of the difficult choices relating to the incompatibility of growth ambitions for the Arc and the need to protect the environment.

This alternative consultation sought people’s views on a range of related issues, from the need for growth, and whether the Arc was the best place for that growth; people’s priorities for the future; and how planning decisions should be made.

Although the alternative survey was launched about two weeks after the Government survey, by 12th October (when the Government survey closed) it had received over 3,800 responses, 30 percent more than the official survey’s online number.

In answer to the question “If there were a referendum today, would you vote for the Ox-Cam Arc?”, 93 percent of people said “No”; only 4 percent said “Yes” and 3 percent were “Don’t knows”.

More than 90 percent said funding for improvements to nature should not be linked to development and 92 percent also said the government’s proposals to develop the Arc and improve nature at the same time were probably or definitely impossible to achieve.

This sends a strong message to the Arc Environmental Group that claims that "sustainable economic growth and the enhancement of the environment are compatible and achievable".

Responses agree that the imposition of Whitehall-determined high-growth rates way above the national average level is just not acceptable.

If the Government is serious about levelling up and saving the environment this project must be stopped.

If you agree, you need to tell your MP and Councillors now before the Lords Committee on the Built Environment makes any final decisions later this year!


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