Guest blog: SpiritFM article 14th May 2018
5:05am 14th May 2018
(Updated 6:06am 14th May 2018)
Campaigners say they'll consider seeking a judicial review of Highway's England's decision for the preferred route of the A27 Arundel bypass, warning it will be 'extraordinarily damaging' for the area.
Highways bosses announced on Friday that a revised version of option 5a was the one chosen for the four-mile dual carriageway, in order to help tackle congestion and make the road safer for drivers.
They said the route 'strikes the right balance between creating vital new road capacity and protecting the special environment and cultural heritage in and around Arundel'.
However, the Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee claims that incorrect information was given out by the body in a consultation last year, which disguised the effects the road would have on the neighbouring environment and on the villages of Binsted and Tortington.
Emma Tristram, secretary of the ANBC, said: "This road scheme would wreak an incredible trail of destruction.
"It would destroy part of the South Downs National Park, decimate ancient and ecologically important woodland, and devastate the two historic villages of Binsted and Tortington.
"It would also lead to a huge increase of traffic in Walberton, particularly on the semi-rural road, already at capacity, which leads to the new junction.
"The fight against this extraordinarily damaging road scheme has only just begun!"
The group released a video around the time of the consultation, exploring the possible damage a dual carriageway would have on the local area.
Highways England announced on Friday that the proposed route had been changed from the original option 5a, in order to lessen the impact of the scheme on Binstead and neighbouring villages such as Walberton and Tortington.
Alan Feist, the A27 programme lead for Highways England, said: "One of the things that people have to recognise is that any of the options that we looked at would've gone through communities, would've gone through the national park and would've affected ancient woodland.
So it's a case of weighing these schemes in the balance to come to the best solution.
"For those people who will be affected, we will be having drop-in sessions with landowners, we will be working with people on a 1-to-1 basis, we'll be working with stakeholders and environmental groups to make sure what we do is done as sensitively as possible, because we recognise this is a fantastic environment for people to live and work in, and we want to do as much as we can to get the benefits out of that for everyone."
Environmental groups, though, have slammed the plans with the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) claiming the route would create two bottlenecks for traffic at its two ends in Yapton Lane and at the Crossbush roundabout.
Its director Kia Trainor said: "CPRE believes Highways England’s piecemeal approach is deeply flawed and that building the new section of dual carriageways will actually worsen the free flow of traffic along the A27.
"We are very concerned that the countryside is being sacrificed in order to move a traffic jam further along the A27.
"What we need is a more strategic approach to transport infrastructure. We see a role for the new South East Regional Transport Body in helping put together an integrated approach to mobility instead of constantly building bypasses of our bypasses."
Henri Brocklebank, director of conservation at the Sussex Wildlife Trust, claimed the belief that 'we must build ourselves out of congestion' would cause 'irreperable damage' to some of the area's wildlife.
"Highways England’s announcement to plough ahead with option 5A of the Arundel bypass will result in the destruction of woodland, ancient hedgerows and rare chalk stream habitat which is simply irreplaceable.
"The statement proposes modifications to the design consulted on. These modifications aim to reduce some particular environmental and heritage concerns but Sussex Wildlife Trust are frustrated that this option was even on the table in the first place.
"It is hard to see what modifications could possibly make this an acceptable loss of our Natural Environment.
"It is tragic to see important decisions like this taken with such a lack of innovation. This is the 21st Century and we have a road scheme fit for the 1980s."
Three drop-in sessions are being held for people to speak to the Highways England project team to find out more about the plans:
- on Tuesday 15th May at the Arundel Town Hall in Maltravers Street, Arundel, between 4pm and 7.30pm
- on Friday 18th May at The White Swan, 16 Chichester Road, Arundel, between 4pm and 7.30pm
- On Tuesday 22nd May at the Hilton Avisford Park in Yapton Lane, Walberton, between 4pm and 7.30pm.