Dr Emma Tristram's Judicial Review case showed evidence that due to serious errors and omissions, "something went clearly and radically wrong with the consultation" following which Highways England had decided upon Option 5A as their Preferred Route. This significantly affected the impression given of the relative traffic benefits, and of the relative environmental impacts, of the options. The South Downs National Park Authority also applied successfully for Judicial Review of the decision because it had not properly considered impacts on, or alternative options to reduce impact on, the National Park.
Highways England have responded by announcing that they will undertake a fresh non-statutory consultation in 2019, with more and better information given and with corrections to relevant errors, and with a fully open mind as to what option they will choose in a fresh Preferred Route Announcement. They have paid the legal costs of both Dr Emma Tristram and the National Park Authority.
Dr Emma Tristram's judicial review case succeeded in gaining significant concessions from Highways England that they will re-run the defective 2017 public consultation with better information and correction of errors. Emma wrote on her crowdfunding page about why she was taking Highways England to court:
I love Arundel's beautiful countryside and historic villages, and have studied the local woods and landscape. I raised my family in Binsted. I want to save these places from an A27 Arundel Bypass.
The beautiful Arun valley, the South Downs National Park, rural villages and ancient woods are in danger from a very damaging A27 Arundel Bypass route. "Option 5A" was announced as Highways England's Preferred Route in May.
The route starts with a 70mph dual carriageway on a high embankment or on stilts, across this iconic view of Arundel's castle and downs.
It then goes through two villages, Tortington and Binsted. In Binsted, it destroys fabulous National Park countryside full of ancient woodland and rare wildlife species.
On behalf of everyone who values all these things, and feels that this is not the right solution to Arundel's traffic problems, I am applying for judicial review of Highways England's Preferred Route decision.
I need to raise £5,000 to cover the initial stages before the issue of proceedings and then we will need another £30,000 to fight the case in court. If I am successful, the decision to make 5A the Preferred Route will be quashed.
The main plank of my legal application is that Highways England’s many errors and omissions in their 2017 public consultation, which mostly favoured Option 5A, made the consultation unlawful. The public did not have accurate enough information to make an informed decision. District and County decisions to support 5A were based on this faulty information.
Highways England’s consultation also contravened planning policy and guidance and failed to have due regard to the South Downs National Park. The National Park Authority has announced that they are seeking a Judicial Review. The grounds on which my case will be based are broader than those of the National Park and will complement them.
Why should people care?
The Preferred Route chosen by Highways England is incredibly destructive, affecting:
- The South Downs National Park, destroying a much-visited and cared-for area
- The Arun river valley and views of Arundel
- Binsted village, cut in two and destroyed as a place
- Tortington village, cut in two and destroyed as a place
- Walberton village, and local roads, would suffer increased traffic
- Torton Hill, southern suburb of Arundel, would suffer noise and pollution
- Binsted Woods, a ‘Noah’s ark’ for wildlife, cut in two and part destroyed
The countryside at Arundel, Tortington and Binsted is a fantastic ‘green lung’ for towns close by and many local villages. They can currently enjoy the National Park without having to cross the A27 dual carriageway. This access, tranquillity and beauty would be lost.
The wildlife of the area is exceptionally diverse, with 14 species of bats, dormice, water voles, harvest mice, ancient woods and streams. Severance by Option 5A would lead to local extinctions of protected species, and destruction of protected habitats.
Local and environmental groups see the choice of 5A as driven by a regressive agenda which fails to address climate change. They put forward a more modest, much cheaper and far less damaging solution, the New Single Purple Route. This was not included in the consultation but it should have been, to protect the Park.
A new four-lane bypass through the South Downs National Park would set a precedent for more major road schemes in this and other National Parks. These protected areas must remain protected.
I am lucky to work with several local groups and charities concerned with this special countryside, and its ecology history and community life. These include MAVES (Arun Countryside Trust), the South Downs National Park's cultural heritage Volunteers, Binsted Arts Festival, the Friends of Binsted Church, and the Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee. I edited the Binsted Book Group's 'Binsted and Beyond' (2002). Our cause is also supported by regional groups such as Sussex Wildlife Trust, CPRESussex, and the South Downs Society.
These websites have more information about options for the Arundel A27:
- Click here for the Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee's website
- Click here for the Arundel A27 Forum's website
- Click here for Arundel SCATE's website
This charity's website has more information about the landscape and wildlife:
- Click here to read about the natural and historic environment of the area (Maves/Arun Countryside Trust)
These websites have more information about the villages affected by 5A