Maria Caulfield MP, Chairman of the A27 Reference Group, has announced that a business case to dual the A27 is ready to go before Government Ministers.
The Friends of the South Downs have expressed their concerns about the proposal to put a motorway-style road in between Lewes and Polegate near Eastbourne as it will destroy the beautiful countryside and be visible from the South Downs and the South Downs National Park.
It will be a scar across the countryside whether you’re standing on Mount Caburn near Lewes or whether you are on Firle Beacon on the South Downs.
Spending an estimated £450 million, at more than £50M/mile is a huge amount of tax payers’ money to allow people to drive a bit faster over the 9 or 10 mile stretch of road. This stretch of road is often slow, due mainly to the single lane traffic.
Spending £450 million on this project, when there are cutbacks in services locally, seems the wrong approach. The South Downs Society supports the ‘in-line’ solution which is estimated to cost £75 million and which would improve the situation along the route for both car drivers and for pedestrians, cyclists, and horse riders. Congestion through the villages would also ease.
The land between Lewes and Polegate is low-lying, across the Laughton levels, and therefore any motorway would have to be built on an embankment making it even more visible from the National Park in the countryside around. In addition to this, and of more environment damage, it would increase the noise envelope by at least 4 of 5 times. The noise of the motorway would be heard from the South Downs Way. Another option would be to build the motorway in a cutting, but this is probably not possible and would in any event cost more money.
The Society’s Area District Officer, Vic Ient comments, “We do not feel the proposed solution would solve the traffic jams which occur almost daily at the two major roundabouts near Lewes, Ashcombe near Kingston and Southerham at the junction with the A26.
Even after spending the proposed £450 million, these two major traffic congestion areas which cause serious air pollution will still exist. Highways England have not considered any proposals
for these roundabouts.
If the motorway proposal went ahead, would this actually help the economy and the people in Polegate and Eastbourne? I doubt it, it might just encourage people to leave their jobs locally and drive to Brighton or even further afield to the Gatwick area. This would then result in further impact, the residential areas in the east just becoming dormitory towns. Local businesses in Polegate and Eastbourne could subsequently be affected and this could then lead to even more traffic on the roads and cause even further traffic jams around the A27 towards Brighton, as locals travelled further afield.
The A27 situation at Polegate and Lewes mustn’t be considered in isolation. The picture is much bigger than this. The proposal is not part of an integrated track transport plan. It doesn’t solve the traffic problems on the A26 as you come down on the A26 to Lewes and go through the Cualfail tunnel. That traffic congestion and pollution problems will increase with the proposed heavier and faster flow.
We would support an integrated view of the transport system. For instance, a new railway line between Uckfield and Lewes (approx 7 miles), would be much less cost then the motorway proposal, have a much lesser environmental impact on the South Downs National Park, and there would be a real gain for reducing pollution and traffic congestion in Lewes, by taking people off the road and giving them a much faster way of getting to work and travelling around.”