Guardian columnist Patrick Barkham recently visited the Arundel area to explore the environmental issues associated with options for a new Arundel bypass. His piece, The Road to Rural Oblivion, appeared in the paper on Tuesday 14 November. Our Policy Officer Steve Ankers took the opportunity to write in response. We’ll let you know if it gets published, text below:
Three cheers for Patrick Barkham’s analysis (Notebook, Guardian 14 November) of Highways England’s discredited approach to the trunk road network.
Its public consultation on Arundel bypass ignored the role of public transport and other “greener” transport in providing access to jobs, education, services and the South Downs National Park. Arundel hardly features in the exercise. We were asked to choose which of three bypass options would best take traffic off the existing bypass — with each option ploughing through ancient woodland, wildlife habitats, splendid views, historic settlements, close-knit communities and our newest national park.
The National Park Authority rejected all three options and listed the environmental evidence for their objections. Highways England was honest enough to identify as “adverse/major adverse” the impact of each option on cultural heritage, landscape, nature conservation, geology, soils, road drainage, water resources, people, communities, farming and recreational businesses — and that’s from the organisation charged with building the bypass.
Extensive research into the impact of major new highways is consistent — they lead to increased traffic, contribute nothing to the local economy and do lasting, significant environmental damage.
Arundel residents and national and local organisations like ours have offered real solutions — junction improvements and a modest, single carriageway road which would reduce congestion, facilitate greener transport and minimise the damage. We cannot afford the waste of cash and the environmental destruction that are integral elements of major highway schemes. Arundel, the South Downs National Park and the country deserve better.