Recently two legal challenges against Highways England’s preferred route decision for the Arundel Bypass have been withdrawn.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.