Highways England’s ‘Scoping Report’ about the Arundel Bypass Grey route, is now on the Planning Inspectorate website. This document sets out how Highways England intend to go about their Environmental Impact Assessment. Click here to read for yourself, or read on ...
The Scoping Report explains how Highways England are proposing to evaluate the effects of the Grey route on ecology. It becomes clear just how much they would like to leave out. Consultant ecologist Jacqueline Thompson BSc (Hons) MSc MCIEEM, of Wildlife Splash Ltd, writes this analysis, showing how their scoping report downplays the ecological impacts.
What the Scoping Report doesn't consider (or rather purposefully ignores) is the amazing biodiversity within the Binsted Woods Complex, and the additional habitats that these species require for movement.
These habitats can currently be accessed across the dark Binsted Lane, Tortington Lane etc. as there are no barriers to dispersal.
- Bats can currently commute daily to the sheltered wet habitat of Binsted Rife and the floodplain habitat to forage.
- Reptiles hibernating in the Binsted Woods Complex can move west and south to grasslands and wetlands (particularly Grass Snake which moves several km from hibernation to breeding to foraging sites).
- Dormice disperse along the hedgerows and prop up populations in surrounding small woodlands, woodland strips, thick hedges etc.
- Toads only breed in water and spend the rest of the year in suitable habitat such as woodland and therefore commute from the woodland to ponds and ditches.
- Hedgehogs travel on average 1.2 miles per night and further when breeding.
- Badger – high population density will result in very high mortality as the road will sever territories.
- Birds – some species forage far afield.
The woodland will be turned into an ‘island’. How are they going to mitigate for multiple movements of all these species that require woodland and other habitats as part of their feeding, breeding, hibernating etc. life cycles?
On bats, HE concentrate on the possible effects on bats at the faraway colonies at The Mens and Ebernoe. But bats there have such good habitat around them that they are unlikely to routinely forage at the Binsted Woods Complex. They have ignored the incredibly high diversity of bats that have been found within the Binsted Woods Complex.
The Binsted Woods Complex together with its hinterland - the dark, undisturbed, sheltered woodland edges, such as the three arms of woodland Lake Copse, The Shaw and The Lag, Binsted Rife, together with Tortington Rife and the floodplain grassland - provide excellent forage for bats. Research has shown that bats will travel up to (and sometimes above) 15 km per night to good foraging grounds.
We know that Serotines in a modern roof in Barnham come to the Binsted Woods Complex to forage around the edges. There must be numerous bats in old churches, old buildings and modern and old trees or trees with dense ivy etc. in the surroundings of this large block of woodland that are likely to come to forage as it is likely to be the richest foraging area, south of the A27, for miles. If one studies a map there are numerous nearby settlements – Tortington, Binsted, Walberton, Barnham, Woodgate, Westergate – even coastal areas such as Middleton, Bognor, Climping etc – and there are numerous dark corridors along which bats can fly to access the excellent forage at Binsted Woods Complex.
Bats do not like to cross roads with lights. They will avoid this. Lower flying species are also killed on roads due to collisions.
Grey would also have negative impacts on birds. There have been many academic studies showing the impact on busy roads on breeding birds – see extract below from 2017 MAVES report:
‘Much of the negative impact on birds will be ‘invisible’ due to a decrease in breeding numbers near roads. A 5-year research programme at Harvard University (Forman et al. 2002) concluded that birds might be strongly affected by traffic volume or changes in volume. With traffic of 15,000–30,000 cars per day (a two-lane highway), both bird presence and breeding were decreased for a distance of 700 m. A heavy traffic volume of ≥ 30,000 vehicles / day saw bird presence and breeding reduced for a distance of 1200 m from a road.’
Think of all the ditches, hedgerows and proximity to woodland edge that will be impacted, and Binsted Rife which has good numbers of breeding birds in all that dense vegetation and reedbed. This is an excellent spot for farmland birds as well and populations will inevitably decline.
Species left out
Barn Owl is the only species that they mention that will be killed once the road is in place. However, we know that Badger, Hedgehog, birds, bats, reptiles, toads, invertebrates etc. (just about everything) is routinely killed by traffic. The only reason we seldom see this is that the bodies of birds, reptiles and bats are very small and can easily be carried away by crows or bigger birds. There is much research evidence on this. We humans only really see big bodies – badger, hedgehog, foxes.
- Priority species – toads, hares, hedgehogs, harvest mice – all declining nationally and all in the area.
- Cumulative impact – they treat each species as an individual. There is a cumulative high number of protected species in this area not seen in any other nearby area south of the A27. In terms of rare and protected species it is a ‘hot spot’.
Basically – HE are undertaking a legal minimum ‘box-ticking’ exercise to get a road in an area that will decimate wildlife now, and the declines will continue into the future due to the presence of the road. The result will be an impoverished habitat. This impact cannot easily be measured but the empirical evidence is there.
There must be some ulterior motive to build such an expensive and damaging road in this area over ancient countryside that supports such biodiversity.