Highways England’s own Scheme Assessment Report (May 2018) shows that the information they provided in the 2017 Arundel A27 Public Consultation was even more seriously wrong than we had thought.
The public and local authorities were misled about the options as regards biodiversity, Benefit-Cost Ratios, landscape views, and traffic.
We believe these and other errors and shortcomings in the consultation are severe enough to invalidate the result.
The report can be viewed on https://highwaysengland.co.uk/projects/a27-arundel-improvement/.
Examples of errors in the 2017 public consultation, admitted by Highways England in their 2018 Scheme Assessment Report:
In the 2017 public consultation, all three Options (1, 3 and 5A) were unhelpfully scored as Major Adverse – leading respondents to think there was no difference between the options in effects on conservation. Option 1 is now correctly scored as Minor Adverse, Options 3 and 5A as Very Large Adverse.
The reason Option 5A now scores Very Large Adverse, the same as the score for Option 3, despite taking considerably less woodland, is the very high species richness of Binsted Woods and its environs, now better known through surveys by MAVES. The woodland that would be virtually destroyed by Option 5A’s western junction is the highest-quality and most unusual woodland in the whole 100 ha of Binsted Woods, containing irreplaceable habitats such as a chalk stream.
This species richness was ignored by Highways England in the consultation. MAVES’ wildlife and habitat surveys from 2015 and 2016 were sent to them, but HE failed to include the new information in their error-filled Environmental Survey Report. Instead they relied on old data, a three-day survey in January, a desk-based study and one car journey – giving a completely false impression of the damage Option 5A would do.
The correct biodiversity scores should have been available in time to inform people’s decisions in the 2017 consultation.
- Benefit-Cost Ratios
The Benefit-Cost Ratio Highways England now give for Option 5A is 1.51 (table 6.14 page 100 of their Report). In the consultation they stated that 5A had a BCR of 2.60 (see their Economic Assessment Report, Table 6.11, page 31).
The supposed benefits of the scheme have decreased significantly at the same time as the assessment of the environmental impact has been significantly raised. The higher BCR quoted in the consultation played a major part in the choices by Local Authorities to support 5A. These two major changes invalidate the consultation and the Preferred Route choice based on it.
- Landscape Views
The new information on the effect of Option 5A on views highlights 26 viewpoints. The 2017 consultation contained no information at all on views in Tortington and Binsted except one wrongly captioned one. But despite being improved, the new viewpoint information still hides the impact of 5A on Binsted Woods and its environs.
Of the 26 new viewpoints, there are none in Binsted Woods. Four in Tortington Common are erroneously captioned as in Binsted Woods. These new views, together with some in Binsted Woods, should have been included in the consultation (with correct captions).
The new viewpoints reveal the defects in the consultation and show that the damaging effect of Option 5A is still being hidden by errors in the information given.
- Traffic: statement that one Option is unviable invalidates the consultation
The traffic information now given is based on a new model using mobile phone information and shows predicted traffic levels as 20 per cent higher than previously calculated. It now includes induced traffic whereas previous figures did not. HE have used the new traffic scores to rule out Option 1 as a viable option by their criteria.
If Option 1 had not been included in the consultation, responses to the HE questionnaire would have been very different. HE’s report shows that of 2821 questionnaire responses, 48 per cent chose 5A, with 50 per cent split between Options 1 and 3. Without Option 1, the result might have been a near-tie. This downgrading of Option 1 by HE makes the consultation null and void.
The change to including induced traffic levels not only invalidates the consultation but proves the point often made by campaigners that building a major new road causes a large increase in traffic. This is an argument against the viability of the whole scheme, not against just one of its options. ___________________________________________________________________________
Please help Dr Emma Tristram challenge Highways England through Crowdjustice:
For a link to Dr Emma Tristram’s Crowdfunding webpage, go to www.crowdjustice.com and search for “Save Arundel’s countryside from bypass ruin”, or click on this link: