Option 5A is being mis-appraised in the current consultation due to wrong facts, and inadequate and misleading ecological, community, traffic and landscape impact assessments. All of these together have resulted in understatement of costs (especially mitigation), overstatement of benefits, and understatement of the adverse impacts in the Assessment Summary Table (AST). Taken in combination, the re-appraisal of Option 5A based on correct information and better understanding must be a game-changer.
This section deals with factual and comprehension errors in the preparation and presentation of the consultation. These have concealed the real damage caused by Option 5A, invalidated Highways England’s route impact appraisal, and misdirected the public consultation.
Much of Binsted and all of Binsted Woods are within the South Downs National Park boundary. Damage to all of Binsted affects the National Park. The mis-appraisal of Option 5A documented here and in other sections amounts to a failure to have regard to the Purposes of the South Downs National Park (Section 62 of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act, 2006).
Five areas of mis-appraisal of Option 5A
(over and above the gross mis-appraisals in their ecological, community, traffic and landscape impact assessments).
1.Factual errors about the impact on the community of Binsted
The section on ‘Effects on Communities’ in the Environmental Study Report states Binsted is ‘500m south’ of Option 5A. Incorrect. Three houses in the village at Binsted Park are 75m away from Option 5A, and 4 are cut off from the rest. One listed house is under 200m, two under 300m, and two under 400m from Option 5A. Five other houses are under 300m, five more are under 400m from Option 5A.
The ‘Conclusions’ section to the Environmental Impact Report says 5A will ‘adversely affect people and communities…east of Binsted.’ No mention is made of the impact on Binsted itself or impact on communities west of Binsted.
2.Factual errors about Binsted Park
Binsted Park, ancient parkland within Binsted Woods, is directly in the path of Option 5A and destroyed by it. But Highways England’s information has made this damage disappear. A viewpoint labelled ‘Binsted Park’ is of a metalled road on Tortington Common. A table states Binsted Park is ‘outside’ the scheme area. There are many other related naming errors.
3.Factual errors about Binsted Woods in the consultation as a whole
- The true size, character and quality of Binsted Woods are never mentioned. They are a large area, 250a, of ‘nationally important’ broadleaved woodland – as stated by consultants comparing bypass routes in 1992. Option 5A would destroy parts of them and fragment others. Highways England have failed to grasp that the ‘Binsted Woods Complex SNCI’ (now Local Wildlife Area) comprises two distinct blocks, Tortington Common in the east and Binsted Woods in the west, and that 5A destroys the integrity of Binsted Woods.
- Misleading visual aids. Important maps omit areas of Binsted Woods, making them look like unconnected copses. These misleading maps are used as base maps for many other maps, compounding the misinformation.
- The consultation’s 22/8/17 launch press release says Option 5A passes ‘between Binsted Woods and the National Park’. Impossible, since Binsted Woods are in the National Park.
4. Factual errors about Binsted Woods in the Environmental Study Report
- Environmental Study Report (8.6.6.) states Tortington Common is ‘All Semi-Natural’. Incorrect. Much of Tortington Common is ‘Plantation on an Ancient Woodland Site’ whereas Binsted Woods are ‘Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland’. The distinction, important in planning terms, is never described.
- Environmental Study Report (8.6.6.) states Option 3 would ‘Bisect Binsted Wood’. Incorrect. A route similar to Option 3 was chosen in 1993 to preserve Binsted Woods from the Bypass. Option 3 would bisect Tortington Common not Binsted Woods.
- Table 8.5 in the Environmental Study Report states all Options have ‘no significant impact’ under ‘Semi-Natural Broadleaved Woodland’. Incorrect. Option 5A destroys Semi-Natural Broad-Leaved Woodland in two places in Binsted Woods and has a ‘significant impact’ on the rest of Binsted Woods.
5.Other examples of errors in the consultation materials
- Error in main map of routes. Key shows a line of purple dots = Public Rights of Way. On the actual map, a line of purple dots is used for the National Park boundary.
- Error in consultation brochure. P. 28 states the impact of Option 1 is ‘Major adverse’ as it leads to loss of Ancient Woodland from ‘Binsted Wood Complex’ and ‘Rewell Wood Complex’. Option 1 only affects the short, degraded woodland strips beside the existing route. This must be ‘Minor Adverse’.
- Table inserted from a different project. A table of ‘target notes’ at Appendix D of the ‘Preliminary Environmental Assessment’ is about King’s Lynn Power Station.