Press release – immediate use

Oxfordshire County Council withheld traffic reports from its public consultation on Watlington Relief Road planning application

Oxfordshire County Council has been told by its own planning authority that it must provide the data showing the increased traffic that would result if it builds a new road at Watlington. Last year, the County Council applied (to itself) for planning permission for the road, which requires an environmental impact assessment. (1) However, the County Council only produced a partial environmental assessment. It ignored the extra traffic the road would cause. (2)

The County Council also failed to include the traffic model validation and traffic forecast reports it used to evaluate the road scheme, leaving respondents to the public consultation on the planning application, unaware of the information they were being consulted about. (3)

Now it has been instructed these must be provided, together with other missing environmental information. (4)

Last week, the Supreme Court upheld the importance of public participation in the planning system and the public being informed at an early stage, on projects likely to have significant effects on the environment. (5)

Chris Church, co-chair of Oxfordshire Roads Action Alliance said: “By cutting corners and withholding information, the County Council is skewing investment decisions to build new roads. This is taking funding away from sustainable transport and active travel and is extremely short- sighted.” (6)

Debbie Davies, a member of Oxfordshire Roads Action Alliance said: ” To meaningfully participate in the planning process on projects like new roads, the public and environmental organisations require accurate information about the environmental impacts. Without this critical data, they are left uninformed and unable to effectively participate.”

Greg O’Broin, co-chair, Oxfordshire Roads Action Alliance said:  “As with the Didcot HIF1 road, this is a further example of an inadequate Transport Assessment by Oxfordshire County Council.”


For more information contact Chris Church, co-chair Oxfordshire Roads Action Alliance 07710 409590 or Debbie Davies

Notes for editors

  1. An application was made by the County Council last year for planning permission to build a new road at Watlington. Before the County Council can proceed, legislation in the United Kingdom requires an environmental impact assessment (“EIA”) to be carried out. The object of an EIA is to ensure that the environmental impact of a project is exposed to public debate and considered in the decision-making process.

2. “Induced and diverted trips have not been included in the modelling carried out. Induced trips are new trips that would not have been made without the proposed infrastructure, typically arising from suppressed demand. Diverted trips are those trips that would reroute through the model area due to the improved route. Details on induced and diverted trips need to be added to the VISSIM model and are required to be provided.” OCC Planning response R3.0010/24 5th June 2024. The County’s Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP) says that “road schemes often generate new demand and quickly reach capacity again. “We will always require careful modelling for major schemes to ensure that the likely effects on the wider network are fully understood.” Road Schemes, LTCP, OCC

3. “The Local Model Validation Report (reference WRR-A C M-03-Z ZZ-RP-N-2600003-S3- PO1) (LMVR) referenced in chapter 8.5 of the Transport Assessment has not been included in the planning application or Environmental Statement. Similarly the Traffic Forecasting Report (TFR) (referenceWRR-ACM-03-ZZZ-RP-N-2600004-S3-P01) referenced in chapter 8.7 of the Transport Assessment has not been included in the planning application or Environmental Statement. This information is required to be provided. “ OCC Planning response R3.0010/24 5th June 2024

4. OCC Planning response to the public consultation on planning application R3.00101/24 5th June 2024

5. [2024] UKSC 20, R oao Finch on behalf of Weald Action Group v Surrey County Council and Others Public Participation para 18 – 21 “you can only care about what you know about”

6. Oxfordshire County Council has to cut private car journeys by 25% by 2030 and a further third by 2040. Last year, the County Council removed £8m from the Oxford Woodstock Road cycle path to fund other infrastructure projects including construction contracts on the Benson Relief Road

7. Oxfordshire Roads Action Alliance (ORAA) is a community alliance and campaign group opposed to unsustainable road development in Oxfordshire.