Author Archives: SCATE

Take Action Now!

We are urging all our members to respond to the consultation on the A27 Arundel Bypass and to encourage friends, family and colleagues to do likewise. As Craig Bennett, CEO of Friends of the Earth found out when he visited Arundel, all of Highways England’s options increase traffic and carbon emissions. A crazy situation at a time of climate emergency and that’s before considering all the other damage a new dual carriageway would cause.

Please fill in Highways England’s online questionnaire where we would recommend selecting ‘do nothing’ but then add in the comment box that you support a 40mph wide single carriageway between Crossbush and Ford roundabout (the Arundel Alternative) instead.

Or select the ‘beige’ or ‘cyan’ routes but then add in the comment box that while you support the alignment, you don’t support a 70mph dual carriageway and would rather see a 40mph wide single carriageway between Crossbush and Ford roundabout (the Arundel Alternative) instead.

If you don’t have time to fill in the questionnaire but would like to object to Highways England’s proposals and support the Arundel Alternative instead along with better sustainable transport links please take our action.

You can also find more info on Arundel SCATE’s leaflet.

Many thanks, and don’t forget to tell others about this too!

 

There is a solution

Highways England doesn’t seem to have learnt any lessons from the two judicial reviews it was threatened with last year over its proposals for the A27 at Arundel.  It is still publishing inaccurate information and it is still insisting that 70mph, highly damaging dual carriageways are appropriate.  This is hardly having regard to the special purposes of the South Downs National Park, for apart from a tokenistic option that skirts the Park (that’s unrealistic as it is so expensive and still very damaging), it has changed little in its approach.

Fortunately, there is a solution, the Arundel Alternative, that local people have come up with that would resolve the hold ups at Arundel at peak times.  This would involve a small length of 40mph wide single carriageway from Crossbush to the Ford Roundabout.  It would be far cheaper to build and cause far less damage and would be unlikely to impact on the South Downs National Park.

However, for it to have a chance of going forward we need your help.  Please respond to Highways England’s consultation that runs until 11:59 pm, 24th October, 2019.

Please fill in the online questionnaire where we would recommend selecting ‘do nothing’ but then add in the comment box that you support a 40mph wide single carriageway between Crossbush and Ford roundabout (the Arundel Alternative) instead.

Or select the ‘beige’ or ‘cyan’ routes but then add in the comment box that while you support the alignment, you don’t support a 70mph dual carriageway and would rather see a 40mph wide single carriageway between Crossbush and Ford roundabout (the Arundel Alternative) instead.

To find out more information and to get more guidance on how to respond to Highways England’s consultation please see the new Arundel Alternative website.  Or you can find more info on Arundel SCATE’s leaflet.

If you don’t have time to fill in the questionnaire but would like to support the Arundel Alternative, please email Highways England at: A27ArundelBypass@highwaysengland.co.uk opposing all six of their options on the suggested following grounds (please use your own words):

  • All options will increase carbon emissions and make it harder to meet legal target of net-zero carbon by 2050
  • Don’t believe there is a need for the capacity on the A27 – future traffic projections have nearly always overestimated demand (and we actually need to see traffic reduction)
  • Want the money invested in sustainable transport instead and a cheaper, less damaging road (the Arundel Alternative) avoiding the current bottlenecks
  • Will destroy ancient woodland and harm the South Downs National Park

Many thanks!

 

A new regional vision on the horizon

Transport for the South East (TfSE) is a new regional transport body, whose board is made up of local highways authorities and some of the region’s local enterprise partnerships. It is looking to co-ordinate strategic transport planning and could allow for collaboration and innovation across the South East. However, if done badly, it could just mean more of the same, outdated road building mentality that has served us so poorly to date.

TfSE is in the process of drafting a regional transport strategy. The strategy will influence how public money is spent in the region. That is why it is important to get involved with the forthcoming consultation. We need to make sure that sustainability is given a high priority and that the final strategy demonstrates how it will play its part in reducing carbon emissions. (Transport emissions are currently out of control in the UK and are being exacerbated by all the road building that is taking place and by the freeze on fuel duty).

The launch event for consultation on the draft strategy is on the 10th October in Farnborough. There will then be a series of afternoon and early evening events across the south east.  The afternoon events (held between 1.30pm-4pm) are invitation only, but these can be requested from TfSE via tfse@eastsussex.gov.uk

These are then followed by an informal drop-in session from 4.30pm-6pm where you can have a one-to-one conversation about the draft strategy. If you are interested in going to one of these you will need to register to go through clicking the relevant event link below.

Afternoon invitation event 1.30pm-4pm.

Reading Town Hall, Weds 16th Oct 2019 1.30pm – 4pm

Woking, WWF Living Centre, Thurs 17th Oct 1.30pm – 4pm

Canterbury, Christ Church University, Tues 22nd Oct 2019 1.30pm – 4pm

Brighton, Jury’s Inn, Weds 23rd Oct 2019 1.30pm – 4pm

Southampton, Central Hall, Thurs 24th Oct 1.30pm – 4pm

 

Early evening informal drop-in session 4.30pm-6.00pm.

 

Reading Town Hall, Weds 16th Oct 2019 4.30pm – 6pm

Woking, WWF Living Centre, Thurs 17th Oct 4.30pm – 6pm

Canterbury, Christ Church University, Tues 22nd Oct 2019 4.30pm – 6pm

Brighton, Jury’s Inn, Weds 23rd Oct 2019 4.30pm – 6pm

Southampton, Central Hall, Thurs 24th Oct 4.30pm – 6pm

 

SCATE will be publishing its response to the draft Strategy and guidance on how to respond to the consultation as soon as possible after the 10th October.

Bypass proposals already out of date

We’ve heavily criticised Highways England’s proposals for the A27 at Arundel, announced today at the start of an 8 week consultation which ends on 24 October.  Highways England is consulting on six options, only two of which it can afford to build (p28, consultation document).  All of the schemes are highly damaging to the South Downs National Park or surrounding landscapes and all would increase traffic and carbon emissions.

We’re calling for the public money set aside for an Arundel bypass to be reallocated for improved public transport, walking and cycling infrastructure and on a cheaper on-line single carriageway mini-bypass which would avoid the key bottlenecks.

Henri Brocklebank, chair of SCATE (Director of Conservation at Sussex Wildlife Trust) said: “We would question having a consultation on options, most of which are unaffordable.  Only two of the six options are within Highways England’s budget and all are highly damaging.  We need them to go back to the drawing board and come back with something sensible.”

Brenda Pollack, vice-chair of SCATE (Friends of the Earth South East campaigner) said: “Highways England appear to live in a parallel universe.  We have a climate emergency and new challenging carbon reduction targets, yet they are proposing to increase traffic and carbon emissions with these proposals.  We need schemes that reduce traffic to meet our climate targets whilst protecting nature.”

Kia Trainor, vice-chair of SCATE (director of CPRE Sussex) said: “We are appalled at the dismissive way Highways England treats the alternatives to road building.  They completely fail to consider the improvements that could be achieved in bus and rail if the budget for the road was spent on these forms of transport instead.  Investing the money in a different way would safeguard the countryside and allow people a better quality of life.”

SCATE is advocating that people respond to the consultation opposing all six options on the suggested following grounds:

  • All options will increase carbon emissions and make it harder to meet legal target of net-zero carbon by 2050
  • Don’t believe there is a need for the capacity on the A27 – future traffic projections have nearly always overestimated demand (and we actually need to see traffic reduction)
  • Want the money invested in sustainable transport instead and a cheaper, less damaging road (the Arundel Alternative) avoiding the current bottlenecks
  • Will destroy ancient woodland and harm the South Downs National Park

Email your objection to Highways England at: A27ArundelBypass@highwaysengland.co.uk

Or you can fill in the online questionnaire where we would recommend selecting ‘do nothing’ and then adding in the comment box that you support a 40mph wide single carriageway between Crossbush and Ford roundabout (the Arundel Alternative) instead.

 

Body seeks transport powers

Transport for the South East (TfSE) is bidding to become a statutory body and is asking for views on its proposal.  It was set up in 2017 and involves local authorities, business groups and other organisations across Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Hampshire and Berkshire.

Some SCATE members have attended stakeholder workshops run by TfSE about a new regional transport strategy that they are developing and which will be out for consultation this autumn.

TfSE says:  Statutory status would give us the ability to directly influence the government’s decisions on transport issues and give us the tools we need to deliver our transport strategy

SCATE believes that there is a case for a regional transport body with the relevant powers to enable positive and sustainable transport solutions to happen. However there are worrying signs in the consultation proposal that the over-riding aim is really to invest in transport that delivers economic growth.  Whilst TfSE talks about investment in rail and bus networks there seems to be a focus on the expansion of aviation and damaging new roads.

The paper does acknowledge the high quality environmental and historic “assets” that we have in the region, but it does not really talk about how a new statutory body can ensure that these are protected and enhanced whilst investing in new transport infrastructure.  Neither does it concern itself with health and well-being, air pollution and most importantly of all, climate change.

The government recently adopted the target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and a number of Local Authorities in the South East (who are members of TfSE) have passed climate emergency motions in the past few months.

Transport is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK – accounting for 27% of emissions.[i] Transport is the only sector where emissions have increased since 1990. It is the key area which is undermining efforts to tackle climate change.

At a time of climate crisis it would be a huge oversight to set up a new statutory body which has no remit or power to deliver change through policies and actions that ensure modal shift and an overall decrease in emissions from road traffic and aviation.  Part of the problem is the lack of engagement with the public or other key stakeholders in the region such as from the community and voluntary sectors.  We believe that there needs to be strong conditions on the approval of any new statutory body for the South East and that it needs to be inclusive and broaden the range of stakeholders it engages with.

If you have views please get them in soon. The deadline is July 31st. SCATE and some of its member groups will be putting in responses, however if our concerns are to be taken seriously we need others to amplify them.  You can email responses to tfse@eastsussex.gov.uk

SCATE believes the new body should:

  • Support sustainable economic prosperity, rather than growth per se which often comes with severe social and environmental impacts
  • Have a duty to protect and enhance environmental and historical assets, improve health and well-being and reduce air and noise pollution.
  • Demonstrate best practice in the delivery of net biodiversity gain in all infrastructure delivery
  • Have a duty to invest in systems and schemes to reduce carbon emissions, in line with UK national budgets and targets and to appraise all infrastructure schemes against these
  • Be fully open and transparent with regards to both the board and any sub-groups or advisory fora, all of which should be open to the public to attend, with agendas, papers and meeting minutes published as per the standards operated by local authorities
  • Engage with a wider number of stakeholders, especially the community and voluntary sector who have largely been excluded to date

[i] Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) (2018a) Final UK greenhouse gas emissions national statistics 1990-2016. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/final-uk-greenhouse-gas-emissions-national-statistics 

Nominate good housing developments for an award

Have you moved recently to a new housing development area? Do you know someone that has? Were you involved in the creation of one of these areas? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, and you are proud of where you now live or what you have helped create, then keep on reading.

Transport for New Homes are looking for examples of new housing developments that promote sustainable transport options. If your new housing area promotes walking, cycling and public transport then submit your nomination for the Transport for New Homes award before 26 August.

What’s the criteria?

  • Developments must be in the UK
  • The development must not be over 5 years old
  • A minimum of 500 homes that are mostly occupied
  • Attractive public transport and good walking and cycling routes

There is a growing movement which recognises that over reliance on car use is increasing carbon emissions. Research has shown that creating new roads and expanding existing ones only serves to increase traffic. We need to move away from this method of development and travel in order to combat climate change. Through developing sustainable transport solutions we can do this.

We need new housing developments to lead the way. If developments are designed taking into consideration 21st century issues like global warming, then they will be able to play an active role in preventing it. Through promoting cycling, walking and public transport in these developments, we can move away from an over-reliance on car use. This will help reduce carbon emissions and also foster a healthier and cleaner way of life.

If you don’t know of something good happening maybe a colleague or friend does?  Please do let us see any nomination you send.

If you live in a new development where the transport options are affecting you in a negative way we’d be interested to hear your experiences too.  Contact us and let us know.

The Time is Now

It was great to see so many concerned people at the Time is Now mass lobby of MP’s in parliament last week. Transport is a key issue that many people were quizzing their MP’s about.

Research shows that transport is the largest source of greenhouse gases and is the only sector where emissions have increased since 1990. This highlights why a modal shift away from cars is necessary to reduce the carbon footprint of transport. If we can focus on alternatives such as improving cycling infrastructure, promoting public transport and developing more efficient bus and train services, then we can move towards tackling climate change.

We need to ensure MPs and other decision makers stop supporting plans to increase the size of roads which will generate further car use. -taking us in the wrong direction on carbon emissions.

We know some SCATE supporters made it to the Time is Now mass lobby. Were you there? We would love to hear about how you found the occasion and what kind of responses you got from your MP. Get in contact on Facebook or twitter to let us know, we would love to see any photos you took.

Some MPs did not come and meet their constituents. If yours didn’t please do write to them and see if you can get any commitments in writing saying they will support funding for active travel and public transport and that they will oppose new road building in their area.

Be part of the solution

On 15 June, we held our first proper networking event in Brighton – it was a really positive afternoon with people from across East and West Sussex attending –  including a number of new councillors from Brighton & Hove, Chichester, Arun, Mid-Sussex and Horsham District.

People appreciated being able to get together and to make connections.  We had interesting talks from Transport for New Homes, a new organisation looking at how bad new transport infrastructure is for big new housing developments and what we can do about it.  We had an inspiring talk from John Stewart about the value of working in alliances and other tips for campaigning to stop damaging new roads.  Finally we had a presentation on SCATE’s New Transport Vision from Kia Trainor one of our Committee members.

There were some very productive workshops in the afternoon looking at what we could do, both individually and together, to make a difference and bring about positive change.  At the end of the day a number of us retired to the pub to carry on the conversations.  If you haven’t signed up to SCATE why not do so now?

Fudging the figures

Those interested in the way that policy is made behind closed doors might want to read on….

The question of a new dual carriageway to replace the existing A27 between Lewes and Polegate has long been on the agenda of the road building lobby.

After the Department for Transport (DfT) turned down the plans (for probably the second or third time) on the grounds of very poor value for money and huge environmental damage, the local MPs (first Caroline Ansell and then after the election, Stephen Lloyd and Maria Caulfield) got together with East Sussex County Roads department and the Eastbourne Chamber of Commerce to form the secret and shadowy “Reference Group”, with the sole aim of reviving the dead scheme.

In secret meetings between 2015 and 2018 this group lobbied the DfT minister to release £3m for a new economic study to “prove” the need for the road.  This was taken from the budget allocated to the modest on line junction and crossing improvements proposed to improve the existing road .

Working with (and influencing) officials at Highways England, they secured very strange and unusual instructions being issued to the consultants who were tasked with writing the study.

In the light of conventional Cost Benefit Analysis which shows the proposal to be a complete waste of money, it is worth quoting that the instructions state:

“k) The Consultant shall therefore refine the assessment of the identified corridor(s) using a spreadsheet-based approach that can apply different weights to achieving the scheme-specific objectives (and any other elements that may warrant a higher weighting).”

This is colloquially known as “fudging the figures”.

The fundamental basis of Cost Benefit Analysis is to give different impacts a standard monetised value so that one scheme can be compared on a like for like basis with another.

Choosing different weights for different effects in this scheme compared to others is in our opinion an invalid and dangerous way forward – if widely applied it would be impossible to compare and contrast different road schemes and to judge value for money. This could lead to expensive and highly damaging schemes being built , potentially wasting vast amounts of public money.

We wrote to the Secretary of State and local MPs to ask that when it is published, they would join with concerned locals in rejecting a study that is so clearly weighted against the outcome you have said you have argued for. We requested a meeting, but regrettably the DfT have yet to respond.

We remain hopeful that policy should be made on the basis of unbiased evidence.

Worthing residents reject poor transport plans

Highways England recently published the results of the public consultation on its proposals for the Worthing –Lancing section of the A27.  The consultation that ran for 8 weeks from 19 July through to 12 September 2017,only had one option for consideration, providing people with little real choice. 

This option entailed some modest online widening to create more dual carriageway and changes to junctions. Some incursion into the South Downs National Park would have taken place.  While new crossings were being proposed for pedestrians and cyclists, in general these were poorly thought out as so often seen from Highways England and West Sussex County Council.  For example, going from the south west to the north east of Offington Corner Junction would have required pedestrians (and cyclists not on the road) to use seven separate crossings.  Other junctions were also complex and time-consuming and would have discouraged walking and cycling, while no bus priority measures were included in the scheme either.

In total 1,722 responses were received, the vast majority from local residents.  86% supported ‘improvements’ to this stretch of the A27, with 10% disagreeing.  However, when it came to the actual option on offer, 76% opposed it, with only 15% supporting it.

Most concerns centred around the belief that the scheme would not do enough for congestion or pollution, although as we know all too well, whatever gets built is likely to become congested.

Given the results and that Highways England has sat on these results for 6 months, it is unlikely that anything fast is going to happen on this stretch of the A27.  That means that the capacity of the A27 is to all intents and purposes constrained.  Therefore, does it really make sense to be pressing ahead with a highly damaging Arundel dual carriageway bypass to cope with future demand, when that future demand is unlikely to be realised because of the constraints at Worthing?  Clearly not, but don’t suddenly expect an outbreak of common sense. 

The pressure for road expansion at Worthing or Lancing has not gone away, as local residents frustrated by traffic levels see a new road as the only solution.  However, Highways England, while also being promised billions for its next road investment strategy, is under pressure to deliver on a number of highly contentious and expensive schemes, so doesn’t necessarily have the bottomless pit of money some people think. More modest and sustainable solutions could in the end prevail.  With so little time to reduce carbon emissions and reverse wildlife loss, they need to.