Nine national campaign groups have written a joint letter to transport secretary Chris Grayling about what they called the ‘devastating’ impact of a planned bypass for the A27 at Arundel, Sussex.
The groups, which claim a combined supporter base of over three million, said less harmful solutions ‘can and should’ be brought forward that would safeguard the special qualities of the area, while addressing the current road capacity issues.
Stephen Joseph, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said the scheme ‘has all the elements of being a modern day Twyford Down’ – a reference to the hugely controversial extension to the M3 in the early 1990s.
He said: ‘Nationally important environmental assets are being sacrificed just to improve journey times by a few minutes. Local people are quite rightly up in arms.’
Crispin Truman, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England said: ‘These plans set a dangerous precedent for our National Parks, opening the floodgates to further damaging road schemes in our most important landscapes.
‘Our research has found new roads generate new traffic and lead to yet further congestion, suggesting the Arundel scheme is a waste of public money. Highways England must go back to the drawing board and come up with a better solution.’
A Highways England consultation on three options for the bypass, all of them dual carriageway, ended on Monday. The new road would link together existing dual carriageway sections of the A27 either side of Arundel.
The groups said all the proposals would cause great harm to the South Downs National Park, ancient woodland, and the Arun Valley, which they said is much enjoyed for its tranquillity and wildlife.
Highways England argues that the new road is needed because planned growth along the wider A27 corridor is likely to worsen an existing congestion problem ‘and at present there’s no proposal for public transport provision that would have a positive impact on traffic levels’.
The other seven groups are: Campaign for National Parks; Friends of the Earth; Greenpeace; Open Spaces Society; RSPB; Wildlife Trusts; Woodland Trust.
Separately, West Sussex County Council said its preference for the bypass is Option 5A – with the proviso that a package of environmental mitigation measures is introduced.
Bob Lanzer, the council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, said: ‘Overall, the environmental impacts of Option 5A, if appropriately mitigated, are likely to be significantly outweighed by the substantial economic benefits of this option over the longer term.’