SCATE has issued its response to the Department for Transport feasibility study on the A27 proposal. It echoes much of what Campaign for Better Transport said in its own response to the study, which concludes that, ‘…the whole premise of these studies appears to be to enable more roadbuilding regardless of whether that makes sense economically, environmentally or socially.’
SCATE’s submission raises a number of issues which are not addressed by the DfT study. These include, crucially, the effect of the proposed new roads on greenhouse gas emissions; how much new traffic will be generated by expanding the A27; how the proposals will affect public transport measures; and what is being done to assess possible improvements in public transport as a means of ameliorating congestion? For a full list of questions, see here.
In its submission, SCATE comes up with a number of possible solutions to the issue of congestion on the A27. These include junction improvements, bus links, school and work travel plans and improving cycling and walking infrastructure. Particular attention is paid to the area around Arundel, the damage that a new bypass would cause (including to a large block of ancient woodland), and alternatives that could reduce congestion on the existing bypass.
Public transport: better in 1954
The submission points out that a major source of congestion on the A27 north of Eastbourne comes from people driving from the north, including from Hailsham and Uckfield, via the A22. In 1954, the train journey from Hailsham to Eastbourne took 16 minutes, making it an easy commute. Sixty years later, the journey by public transport (by bus: there is no longer a train station at Hailsham) takes around 40 minutes. There are many other opportunities outlined in the submission for improvements in public transport which could make a real difference to congestion, as well as reducing carbon emissions and avoiding the huge destruction that would be caused by ‘improvement’ of the A27.
No need for substantial interventions
In conclusion, SCATE says, ‘From the evidence submitted so far, SCATE cannot see the need for any substantial interventions with the A27 in the form of major new road construction. The great majority of the traffic on all the sections of the A27 under study is local, with very little long-distance traffic for which trunk roads are normally provided. Most of the pressure on the road is during peak hours, when people are travelling to and from work or ferrying children to and from school. Outside these hours and at weekends, traffic generally flows freely.’