Category Archives: Arundel

Where next?

A big thank you to everyone who took our action to demand something better at Arundel.  Nearly 600 people wrote to Highways England objecting to their proposals and supporting the Arundel Alternative and more investment in active travel and public transport.

When combined with the action hosted by the Woodland Trust, over 2,000 people objected to Highways England’s options.  And that’s before including many more who objected via the complicated online response form.

So what happens next?  Well in the first instance, Highways England has to analyse the consultation responses.  It will then publish the results of the consultation when it announces its preferred option – the route it wants to take forward to build.  This is likely to be in around 6 months time, unless Highways England changes its mind or a new Government changes its mind for it.

In the meantime, groups at Arundel are working out what to do next. So watch this space.

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!

 

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.

 

Legal challenges vindicated by new public consultation

Recently two legal challenges against Highways England’s preferred route decision for the Arundel Bypass have been withdrawn. Both the South Downs National Park Authority and local resident Dr Emma Tristram have now decided to halt their cases since Highways England announced it would be running a further public consultation in spring 2019.

Both parties believe that the new consultation should address many of the concerns they had raised, but SCATE remains worried about the lack of real choice coming forward.

The announcement of a new consultation, plus the fact that Highways England have agreed to pay both parties’ legal costs, is validation that the Park Authority and Dr Tristram were right to pursue their challenges.

Although Highways England says it will issue new traffic data, it will still be consulting on the same route options as the 2017 consultation. This brings little relief to those w­­ho want to see a scheme which does the least possible harm to our precious countryside. We believe that previous options consulted on remain highly damaging and were supported by inaccurate data.

While it is good to see Highways England committing to im­­proved use of data and evidence and going back to the public for input, SCATE challenges Highways England to present clear evidence on a diversity of options, untainted by political preferences.

Unless they put new options forward – along the lines of the purple route being suggested by Arundel SCATE – we can’t see how a sensible and positive solution can emerge. The local transport authority (West Sussex) should be working with the Department for Transport on a package of measures that remedies local transport problems. This must use the latest data on travel and how people live, work and shop in the 21st century.

SCATE and other transport interest groups will be meeting with Highways England staff to press these points in December.

Read more

Real choice is needed in new consultation

Highways England has announced that it intends to consult again on the Arundel bypass options in Spring 2019.  It says this: “will give local people a fresh look at all the viable options for upgrading the A27 using the latest available information.” 

It goes on to say that: “important new evidence is available which merits putting the plans to the public again. This new information includes a redesign of the western end of the scheme where it re-joins the existing A27, updated traffic modelling results and updated data on and enhancements of the alternative Options 1 and 3.”

To many this seems that Highways England is jumping before it is pushed.  It appears to be pre-empting criticism that is likely to arise at the forthcoming judicial review, scheduled for the end of November. Here it is being challenged over the quality and misleading nature of the information it presented in the last round of consultation that led to option 5A being selected as its preferred route: an option that scars the National Park, destroys ancient woodland and other high quality habitats, as well as bisecting Binsted village.

However, there is nothing in this revised approach to suggest that Highways England is doing anything but the minimum that it thinks necessary to force this unpopular and highly damaging road through. Even then it may not succeed as nothing in this announcement appears to address the National Park Authority’s concerns that Highways England has not looked properly at options that would cause no harm to the National Park itself (such as the single carriageway New Purple route).

It is not good enough for Highways England to keep pushing ahead with a slightly tweaked version of what it previously proposed, while ignoring the fundamental concerns with that approach.  It should be acting in the public interest and that includes considering the wider and damaging impacts of road building. Any new consultation needs to include a proper and impartial appraisal of all options, including options previously dismissed that do minimal or no harm to the National Park and avoid significant loss of ancient woodland and other important habitats.

Highways England cannot continue to exist in its own little bubble. After all we’ve just had the warnings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) with transport’s carbon emissions seriously off-target (and new roads create new traffic which just add to the problem). This is on top of already well-documented concerns around air pollution and obesity, all linked to excessive car use and costing the NHS billions.  UK biodiversity is also under threat.

Never more so than now, Highways England needs to be taking A New Direction and to start coming up with 21st century solutions, rather than continuing with the failed and hugely expensive mistakes from the past. Unfortunately, while this new consultation offers an opportunity to reset its approach, it would appear from what it has said so far that it remains firmly off message.

Legal challenges clear first hurdle

The High Court has granted permission, this week, for two Judicial Reviews of Highways England’s plans for the A27 at Arundel.  The two cases will be heard together, probably in the next 3 – 6 months.

The South Downs National Park Authority originally sought leave to appeal the way that Highways England chose its preferred route and its failure to fully explore all options including those which would not impact on the National Park. 

Dr Emma Tristram

In addition, local resident and grandmother, Dr Emma Tristram, engaged lawyers Leigh Day who issued proceedings in the High Court claiming that the decision by Highways England was unlawful.  This was on the basis that following public consultation on the three options, there was a radical change to Highways England’s projected traffic flow on surrounding roads which meant that:

  • information in the consultation brochure was positively misleading;
  • expressions of support by the public for Highways England’s preferred route was based on out of date traffic figures;
  • the public were not given the opportunity to consider revised traffic figures.

She is also contesting that the consultation material contained numerous material errors and omissions which, cumulatively, gave a positively misleading impression of the impact of the preferred option on Binsted village, Binsted Woods and historic Binsted Park.

Dr Tristram has already raised £11,000 towards her legal costs from supporters, but needs to raise substantially more to see the case through. If anyone wants to help her cause they can do so via her crowd-funding website.

Arundel Bypass takes a battering

On Wednesday 23rd May, ten national environmental and conservation organisations wrote a joint letter to Michael Gove (Environment Secretary) and Chris Grayling (Transport Secretary) outlining their concerns about Highways England’s preferred route for the Arundel bypass (a slightly modified option 5A).  This would destroy around 6 hectares of ancient woodland and a swathe of the South Downs National Park.  It would also bisect the village of Binsted and destroy the tranquillity of the Arun Valley and the views along it.

They called for the Arundel bypass and other planned expansions of the A27 to be reviewed and more sustainable solutions to be found that would not jeopordise the Government’s 25 year Environment Plan.

A27-Arundel-bypass-national-joint-letter-23-May-2018-clean

Joint letter to Gove & Grayling

The next day, the plans took another battering when the South Downs National Park Authority agreed to seek leave for judicial review of Highways England’s decision to select a slightly modified option 5A and the process leading up to that decision.  This is the second scheme this year that Highways England’s consultation processes and decision making have been legally challenged.  It would suggest that something is seriously wrong with their approach.

Arundel launch for a New Transport Vision

After successful launches in Lewes and Chichester, Arundel will be launching A New Transport Vision for the Sussex Coast on Thursday, 17 May, 7:30pm at Arundel Town Hall.  Bridget Fox from Campaign for Better Transport will be the keynote speaker.  Refreshments will be available.

The event is free but numbers are limited so make sure you book your ticket early.  Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Appetite for destruction – the Arundel options revealed

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.