The SDNPA today, 19 October, considered its response to the Highways England consultation on three options for a new bypass at Arundel.
The Society’s Policy Officer took the opportunity, alongside MP Nick Herbert, Sussex Wildlife Trust and local residents and campaigners, to address the meeting. The text of the Policy Officer’s “speech” is reproduced below. In line with his plea the SDNPA agreed the recommendations of their officers and resolved to object to all three bypass options on the basis of their significant adverse impacts on the national park.
A27 Arundel bypass
I am speaking for the South Downs Society but also on this occasion for CPRE Sussex branch and for the Campaign for National Parks.
I have addressed this Authority and its Planning Committee on many occasions but seldom on an issue of greater importance.
The idea that a bigger, better road will lead to less congestion, more jobs, environmental benefits is out of date and discredited. I speak as someone who headed East Sussex County Council’s environment division for 15 years but also, for a decade, its transport planning, road safety and economic development functions.
Any road scheme which achieves short term reduction in congestion will attract traffic from other routes and from public transport alternatives but will also “induce” additional traffic – in this case adding to congestion at Chichester, Worthing and Lancing along the A27 and adding to pressures for more road building in or close to the national park. If not already familiar with CPRE’s recent extensive study into the effects of major highway schemes I would highly recommend it.
Highways England’s recent consultation was fundamentally flawed by its inevitable restriction to what benefits an improved trunk road might bring. No real consideration of public transport or the traffic and access issues of Arundel or the national park. Just “what kind of bypass to take traffic off the existing bypass?”
Any benefits to through traffic will be limited and short term. The disbenefits to the environment will be long-lasting and will range, in the words of Highways England, from predominantly “moderate adverse” for option 1 to “major adverse” with options 3 and 5A. What a choice you have before you!
The focus of the bodies for whom I speak today is the same as yours, the impact on the national park, its statutory purposes and special qualities. The South Downs Society and CPRE Sussex strongly object to all three options on the table. We are aware that a letter, which I believe you have seen, has been sent by nine national transport and environmental organisations to the Secretary of State for Transport making the same points. We saved our heaviest criticisms for options 3 and 5A and we asked for variations on option 1 – referred to as the “new purple” route and devised by local residents – to be taken seriously.
Your excellent officer’s report recommends you to object to all three options on the basis of significant adverse impacts on the national park. I strongly urge you to take his advice.