The insanity of the Arundel bypass

26 September 2018

Campaign for Better Transport's Chris Todd takes us through the insanity of controversial plans for the South Downs

Highways England’s proposed A27 Arundel Bypass is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. If built, it would scar the South Downs - England’s newest National Park - while destroying six hectares of ancient woodland, going directly against national policy and guidance.

Then are the impacts on wildlife, the Arun Valley and the setting of Arundel; increased air and noise pollution; and the need to reduce carbon emissions from transport, not increase them by encouraging more traffic. How many more reasons do you need not to build a road?

Protests against the Arundel Bypass

A local protest against the plans at Arundel. Photo credit: Campaign for Better Transport

Yet, despite all this, something does need to be done because the current road causes problems for all road users, but Highways England is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Rather than focussing on solving the problems with minimum harm, it seems determined to push through a new dual carriageway, whatever the impact, and all to save a few minutes on the commute to work - hardly a national priority.

It is so bad that the South Downs National Park Authority and a local grandmother have sought leave to appeal both the recent consultation, which gave the public little or no real choice, and the process by which Highways England chose its preferred route.

Let’s not forget that whatever happens at Arundel will also affect the communities either side of it, at Chichester and Worthing. At Chichester, an upgrade to the A27 was cancelled after the local community was split about what should happen. Some wanted a new northern bypass which would have impacted upon the National Park, others wanted the southern route improved, while another faction opposed all road building and instead wanted to see investment in public transport, walking and cycling.

At Worthing the announcement on expanding the A27 through the town has been delayed partly because this is very unpopular and possibly because it is a trickier situation than at Arundel.  This means that road capacity around Arundel is not going to be expanded any time soon.  Given these facts, expanding the A27 at Arundel seems rather pointless, even more so when you consider current transport trends and a rapidly changing transport environment. 

Surely a more sensible approach would be to invest in measures which reduce car use, and hence congestion, and which cause minimal harm to the environment?  That’s exactly what the South Coast Alliance for Transport and the Environment (SCATE), a network of local groups, is calling for with its new report.  It believes that its approach better fits with national priorities and would be healthier for local people and the environment.

That’s why Campaign for Better Transport, along with many other national organisations, including the Campaign for National Parks, wrote to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP and Environment Secretary Michael Gove MP expressing our concerns and pointing out how this new road doesn’t fit with the Government’s much trumpeted 25 year Environment Plan.

Now we’re urging people to join us in writing to Chris Grayling and Michael Gove. We want people to share their concerns and to ask for this mad scheme to be radically amended or dropped altogether.

By Chris Todd,

Campaign for Better Transport

Click here to join our fight to protect the South Downs!