Thank you for making your voices heard in the Aug-Oct Public Consultation, and for signing our Petition. We objected to Option 5A as the worst option because of its unacceptable environmental and community impacts, and we did not support Option 3 for the same reason and because over 80% of our supporters prefer a lower impact solution on the Option 1 alignment.
You can read the full ABNC set of response documents on www.arundelbypass.co.uk/consultation . We have sent Highways England a Christmas letter which is summed up in our 'see you in court' newsletter topic article further down this newsletter.
What next? An announcement on the Preferred Route is expected in January. There are more stages to come – a ‘statutory consultation’ about the Preferred Route in summer 2018, a Development Consent Order, a decision by a Planning Inspector, and a decision by the Secretary of State.
Meanwhile the Binsted robin and Binsted blackbirds below wish you all a very Happy Christmas.
The woods in the background behind the blackbirds would be severed by Option 5A, but, don't let the Highways boys spoil your joys. Better to celebrate what we have, and gather strength for the new year's battles.
We may have run the biggest roads demonstration since the 1990s in October, but that was only 400 of us - if they carry on as they began, Highways England have surely seen nothing yet. May peace and goodwill prevail.
NEWSLETTER TOPIC: "SEE YOU IN COURT!"
We are considering a legal challenge to Highways England if Option 5A is chosen. Now that the consultation is over it is possible to see just how inadequate it was – prejudged, unfair, and flawed by multiple errors and omissions. ABNC delivered a letter to Highways England on Friday 15 December saying that because of these flaws, if Option 5A is chosen as the Preferred Route Highways England may be facing a legal challenge.
These would be the main grounds of our challenge:
Accuracy: Consultations must present accurate enough information to let consultees make an ‘informed and intelligent response’.
The Arundel consultation did not do this. The following facts were never made clear:
- 1. There is a village at Binsted and Option 5A would go through it.
- 2. Binsted Woods are 100ha of very high quality semi-natural woodland and Option 5A would severely damage them.
- 3. Binsted Park is historic parkland within Binsted Woods; Option 5A would destroy it.
How was this information hidden?
- 1. Binsted was never shown as a village but just as a name label on maps. A statement that Option 5A was 500m north of Binsted was wrong – 5A would cut off 4 of Binsted’s houses from the other 34 and pass 75m from three of them where it is on a 7m embankment. The section ‘effects on communities’ did not mention the effect on Binsted. A list of major adverse effects on 5 of its 10 listed buildings was hidden in a table and they were not stated to be in Binsted.
- 2. Binsted Woods were never described or distinguished from the recovering plantation woodland on Tortington Common. Up-to-date information on the richness of their wildlife was omitted. Their outline was wrongly depicted on maps with large areas of woodland missing. A wrong statement was made that no option damaged semi-natural woodland when 5A would cut off 20 hectares of Binsted Woods and destroy at least 6. The name ‘Binsted Wood’ (a smaller wood within Binsted Woods) was misused for the whole woodland area.
- 3. A table stated that Binsted Park was ‘outside’ the scheme area. A photo labelled ‘Binsted Park’ was of a road on Tortington Common. The name Binsted Park was misplaced on maps over part of Tortington Common and misused in other ways.
Fairness: Consultations must be fair.
The Arundel consultation was not fair because on 7 July there was an irregular meeting, amounting to a ‘pre-consultation’, of the heads of Highways England, WSCC and Arun District Council, including a representative from Arundel Town Council (who would be most affected by Option 1) but not including Walberton Parish Council (who would be most affected by Option 5A). This was unfair because:
- The route proposals were revealed, giving those present 6 weeks longer to prepare their responses.
- Participants (including Arundel Town Council) could discuss the options with the CE of Highways England, whereas Walberton Parish Council could not.
- Minutes of the meeting (revealed on 22 September after Freedom of Information requests) show that no opinion of Option 5A was expressed. If Walberton Parish Council had been included they would have made it clear that Option 5A would ‘savage’ their parish, as they put it in their consultation response.
- Proposals were discussed at a more formative stage than at the consultation itself. The minutes record Highways England stating that Option 5A was the most expensive route, but in the consultation Option 3 was stated to be the most expensive route.
- Arundel Town Council and Arun District Council signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’, agreeing to oppose Option 1, before the consultation began.
The apparent prejudgement of the consultation in favour of Option 5A was supported by dubious traffic and Cost Benefit figures.
- Traffic estimates ignored the effect of 5A on the semi-rural B road of Yapton Lane, part of Walberton village, which would receive massive extra traffic from the proposed western junction of 5A.
- Statements that 5A would be the best for reducing traffic in the National Park were illogical. ABNC’s traffic consultants doubted that the Arundel Bypass would improve traffic in the National Park, because that traffic is avoiding Worthing as well as Arundel.
- It was impossible to tell how much had been included in the cost estimates for mitigation and compensation planting for ruined habitats. It seemed likely these had been seriously underestimated for Option 5A.
ABNC’s legal advisers state that ‘arguably there is a strong case for a legal challenge’ to the consultation if Option 5A is chosen. No-one wants the divisive bypass battle to continue. But it cannot be right for a beautiful area of the South Downs National Park, much loved by people from far and wide, to be destroyed on the basis of such an unfair and flawed process. If the legal challenge takes place we hope that it will give time for a better solution to be found.
ABNC has been campaigning since the 1980s to protect Binsted’s landscape.