Arun Valley near where a new dual carriageway bypass is likely to go if approved
Well the day we all feared is upon us: the day that Highways England reveals its options for the A27 around Arundel.
Not unexpectedly, the South Downs National Park takes a huge hit whichever option is chosen, although option 1 is marginally better in that development within the National Park is along the existing alignment of the A27. Ancient woodland is also for the chop, as though this and other important features matter little.
It would seem that there is no room for compromise when it comes to attempting to move more and more people by car and little consideration of the consequences of pursuing such a policy. World Heritage Sites (Stonehenge), National Parks, AONBs, ancient woodland, important wildlife sites – none of them matter more than the requirement to shave a few seconds of someone’s journey.
It perhaps wouldn’t be so bad if there was real evidence of the benefits of such an approach, but there aren’t. In fact all it is likely to lead to is more traffic, leading to congestion just moving somewhere else on the network. Indeed as the A27 is expanded along its length, more long distance traffic will start using it, further clogging it up again.
The insanity of our current transport policies are clear to be seen by the solutions being proffered here. If we have a valuable asset such as the National Park, why, if the road is so important, is it not being built in a tunnel for at least part of its length? The reason being that the benefits of the road are not that great and with the warped logic applied by the Department for Transport that means that it is not cost effective to build a tunnel.
So were the road of massive economic importance we would get a tunnel, but because it isn’t we have to suffer the destruction of a swathe of ancient woodland and huge damage to the National Park. It’s utter madness! If we were in The Netherlands, while they like their roads they also build them much more sympathetically. The A4 north of Rotterdam towards Delft has been placed in a tunnel in the urban area and then sunk below ground level through a wet landscape important for its recreational opportunities, significantly reducing its impact on the surrounding area. Whereas we have to be grateful for a noise barrier and some tree planting.
We would urge people to reject all three options and support a low impact variant of option 1 as put forward by local people: the new ‘single purple’ route. This bypasses the key bottlenecks but does so without the harm caused by option 1. Make sure you have your say and vote for a solution that not only works for today but also for future generations.