Wittenham Clumps landscape threatened by new highway proposal

MARCH 2018

Earth Trust, is raising strong objections to a proposal currently being considered for a potential link road from the A34 to the new Oxford to Cambridge Expressway. One of the route options would cut across Earth Trust farmland, impacting on our economic viability, which will undermine our ability to manage the Wittenham Clumps and other national assets.

Earth Trust is an environmental learning charity which manages this 1,200 acre site, including farmland, woodland and wetland. Set within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Wittenham Clumps and Little Wittenham Wood Nature Reserve have been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and include a nationally important Scheduled Ancient Monument. In a county with limited accessible greenspace for people to enjoy, this great heritage landscape is much loved and plays a major role in the visitor economy. It is the most highly visited, free to access greenspace in the South East, with more than 150,000 visits made to the Wittenham Clumps each year.

The proposed route cuts across this land, destroying the economic viability of the Earth Trust Farm which supports the management and setting of this historic and biodiversity-rich landscape.

Jayne Manley, CEO of Earth Trust says: “This proposal will damage the viability of Earth Trust and our ability to manage the Wittenham Clumps and the surrounding farmland and forestry. We look after the living genetic collection of hardwood timber trees, Paradise Wood, and this link road will undermine our ability to protect this nationally important resource. Therefore, for many reasons it is important that this accessible greenspace is protected.”

A letter from Earth Trust has been sent to national bodies including Highways England and the National Infrastructure Commission raising concerns about the routes published on maps which represent local understanding of route options. Local MP Ed Vaizey will be helping Earth Trust to make sure the importance of the site and their work is properly understood.

Graham Shaw, Chair of Trustees for Earth Trust, said: “This site is steeped in heritage and rich archaeology; there is evidence of people living in this area right through from the Stone Age to the modern era, including Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman and medieval remains. Nowadays, Earth Trust adds to the tourism of the area and sits within Oxfordshire’s Science and Knowledge Spine attracting scientists and technicians to this area, to live and work. This proposed route option will severely impact upon all of this.”