At its meeting on 19 October the South Downs National Park Authority resolved to object to Highways England’s three options for a new Arundel bypass because of their significant adverse impact on the national park. The following press release has subsequently been issued jointly by Arundel SCATE (South Coast Alliance on Transport and the Environment) and ABNC (Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee). It quotes the South Downs Society and other organisations.
National Park objects to A27 Bypass – Campaigners slam Highways ‘narrow focus’
The South Downs National Park Authority has voted to object to all three options for the Arundel A27 Improvements Scheme. All options go through the National Park. The Authority wants Highways England to do more work on assessing, mitigating and compensating the impacts, as well as alternatives, before it will even rank the options.
Local community and environmental organisation representatives spoke at the full Authority meeting. Nick Herbert MP claimed that an offline bypass at Arundel should be seen as a “National Park Relief Road”, but other speakers disagreed. “Any traffic diverted from other parts of the Park would still be travelling through the National Park, but faster, more noisily and on a high embankment”, countered Mike Tristram, a member of the Park Partnership and Binsted campaigner.
“This is not a plan for reduced congestion,” added Tony Whitbread of the Sussex Wildlife Trust. “It is a plan for increased traffic, which will spread throughout the National Park. Imagine Midhurst, Petworth, Pulborough and Storrington all with 20 per cent more traffic.”
Steve Ankers spoke for the South Downs Society, the Campaign for National Parks and CPRE Sussex. “Highways England’s recent consultation was fundamentally flawed by its narrow focus on a bypass to take traffic off the existing bypass. Our focus is on the impact on the National Park, its statutory Purposes and Special Qualities. We also don’t believe that the options presented will solve Arundel’s traffic and access issues. We strongly object to all three options on the table. Our heaviest criticisms are of options 3 and 5A, and we have asked for the ‘New Purple’ variations on option 1 to be taken seriously.”
Mike Tristram agreed. “Highways England has failed to properly analyse impacts on the Park’s Special Qualities. Having ‘regard to the Park’s Purposes’ is a legal requirement, but they won’t have this unless they assess the impacts of all options thoroughly before choosing a preferred route. The next stage is too late.”
Kay Wagland, an elected Arundel Town Councillor but speaking as chair of local group Arundel Scate, agreed. “We wholly oppose the offline options 3 and 5A. Both are highly destructive of communities, irreplaceable species, habitats and features. They are a huge waste of money, and unlikely to ease congestion in the long run. We object to Option 1’s dualling, but support its alignment, which matches our preferred single carriageway ‘New Purple’ route.
“We are also concerned about Highways England’s narrow focus and poor quality data, including unreliable traffic figures and large gaps in environmental data. The public has not been sufficiently informed. The Department for Transport should allow work on more integrated transport solutions. The A27 needs to be better not bigger.”
Dr Mike Davis from Walberton, a regular walker in Binsted and Tortington, said, “I cannot accept that option 5A on a high embankment, visible night and day, in such a beautiful setting, pays any regard at all to the Special Qualities of the South Downs National Park. The few minutes saved by option 5A cost over twice as much as those saved by option 1 and cause far worse damage. This degrading of the National Park is not justified.”
Highways England will now be looking at the consultation responses. They have to decide in the light of what they have been told, whether or not they can now recommend a preferred option through the National Park.
For more online information about affected areas see: