On Thursday 28 Sept, we presented a petition to WSCC’s Environment and Community Services Select Committee. Over 2200 petitioners had asked the County Council to reject the Bypass through Binsted, now called ‘Option 5A’. Representatives also spoke from Walberton Parish Council, Tortington Local Community, ArundelSCATE and OneArundel.
The debate can be viewed on the WSCC ECSSC webcast, click on the image below.
Four of the five community groups gave WSCC good traffic, environmental and community reasons why the officers’ recommendation to support Option 5A should be rejected. It would cause appalling damage to Binsted Woods, Binsted Park, the village communities in or using the National Park in this area, and Tortington.
And yet, four out of the five Select Committee members present voted to trash the Environmental and Community Services of this part of Sussex, by supporting Option 5A. The Select Committee ignored their own deeply-buried Landscape Strategy. Worse, their officer persuaded them to regard as ‘minor’ the fundamental flaws in environmental, traffic-numbers and community aspects of Highways England’s consultation. West Sussex are riding roughshod over their local communities.
Highways England are acting with unseemly haste, with a toolkit of badly prepared figures and badly researched data, to try at all human and environmental costs to get spades in the ground before the RIS1 money runs out in 2020. Our local authority representatives, in WSCC and ADC, should not collude in a quick-and-dirty job.
They seem to think they can do whatever they want on the grounds that the national interest overrides National Park status. But the South Downs National Park was designated in the national interest. The Binsted Woods areas affected by Option 5A, some protected wildlife species and habitats, the heritage landscape of governance in Binsted, are all of national importance. The long term national interest is to save the Binsted area, not to destroy it.