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“Size isn’t Everything” say A27 campaigners

On Thursday 21 September the Society’s Policy Officer chaired a public meeting in Arundel organised by the Arundel A27 Forum, a grouping of organisations and individuals committed to seeking more environmentally sustainable solutions to traffic issues in and around the town. Over 100 people attended and indicated their opposition to the grander bypass options put forward by Highways England, the government’s trunk roads agency, and support for more modest measures.

The Society and its partners issued a press release shortly after the meeting:

 

“Size isn’t Everything” say A27 Campaigners

A packed meeting at Arundel’s Norfolk Arms last Thursday warmly welcomed a local, more integrated approach to the town’s traffic problems than relying on a big new bypass.

Local residents joined speakers from regional and national organisations in questioning the evidence submitted in their current public consultation by the government’s agency for trunk roads, Highways England, to justify their three bypass options.

Said Kay Wagland, Ford Road resident, town councillor and local campaigner with Arundel SCATE (South Coast Alliance on Transport and the Environment), “Bypasses are about speeding drivers past places and that’s the remit of Highways England. Arundel residents need to be able to get in and out of their own town safely and conveniently on foot, bike, bus and, yes, by car. None of this is helped by the bypass ‘choices’ we’re being offered.”

David Johnson, chair of Sussex Branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, presented a short new video, The End of the Road, based on extensive national studies of the impact of new road schemes. “Research”, said David, “shows that building roads generates more traffic, causes permanent environmental damage and leads to little economic gain. It’s a tired formula that we can’t afford and benefits nobody in the long run.”

Bridget Fox from the Campaign for Better Transport agreed, “As the remit of Highways England is limited to managing and improving the trunk road network, it’s no surprise that they show bigger and better bypasses as their solution but this isn’t going to solve traffic problems in or around Arundel.”

Kay Wagland and fellow SCATE member Simon Rose concluded that “Bypass Option 1” from the Highways England consultation was a definite improvement on both of the other options, following the existing route of the A27 more closely and having a much less damaging environmental impact, while still easing traffic through the current hold-ups. But they showed the meeting how an improved, less expensive design for Option 1, known as the “new purple route” would perform even better. This can be studied on the website of the Arundel  A27 Forum. There seemed no enthusiasm amongst those present for Highways England’s more grandiose Options 3 and 5A and their viaducts sweeping across the Arun valley.

The meeting was chaired by the Policy Officer for the South Downs Society, Steve Ankers, who concluded, “Some politicians and many members of the public seem to cling to the idea that the more expensive the solution, the better the outcome. We need to look closely at what the actual problems are that we’re hoping to solve. Even from the evidence that Highways England have put forward the grand bypass options don’t score well. Arundel and the National Park deserve better.”

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