The controversial A27 bypass could face a judicial review after the local national parks authority announced plans to scupper what it said was a 'damaging scheme'.
The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) announced that it has resolved to commence proceedings for a judicial review to challenge Highways England’s decision to select a modified version of Option 5A as the preferred route for the scheme.
Highways England's preferred route for the bypass
Separately, a group of 10 national organisations, including Campaign for Better Transport (CfBT) and Campaign for National Parks, have written to transport secretary Chris Grayling and environment secretary Michael Gove to request a review of the scheme.
CfBT chief executive Stephen Joseph has previously said the scheme ‘will face significant resistance, locally and nationally’.
The SDNPA said the route would pass through the national park, including an ancient woodland at Binsted and that Highways England’s own environmental experts have stated that this route will cause ‘significant damage’ to the park’s landscapes.
Margaret Paren, chair of the SDNPA, said: ‘We are not commencing proceedings for a judicial review lightly but we believe that Highways England have not followed the correct procedure, which was to set out, to the same level of detail, all of the options inside and outside the National Park. This led to them discounting options outside of the National Park too early in the process, and they have not provided any detail on mitigation and compensation for any of the routes.
‘We want to work with Highways England so that they can find a solution to the traffic issues at Arundel that also protects the National Park for future generations, including having discussions around mitigation and compensation measures.’
The scheme is nationally significant and will require a Development Consent Order from the transport secretary.
The SDNPA pointed out that paragraph 5.15 of the National Policy Statement on National Networks states that planning permission should be refused for major developments in national parks except in exceptional circumstances.
Such schemes also need to pass a public interest test and consideration of such applications should include an assessment of the cost of, and scope for, developing elsewhere outside the park and opportunities to moderate any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities.
It said it does not believe that the planning inspector would be satisfied that Highways England have met these considerations.