24 May 2018
A group of ten national transport and conservation organisations, with a combined supporter base of over 3 million have written to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and the Environment Secretary Michael Gove to request a review of the Arundel bypass proposed by Highways England.
The groups are concerned that Highways England’s preferred option will destroy 6 hectares of ancient woodland, a swathe of the South Downs National Park and the Arun Valley, an area much enjoyed for its tranquillity and wildlife. They say in the letter that building this route would be contrary to national policy and guidance and would set a dangerous precedent, so that none of our finest landscapes or natural habitats would be safe from damaging development.
The organisations believe that Highways England’s preferred option should be rejected and that instead a package of measures should be developed to address the issues at Arundel which avoid loss of ancient woodland and harm to the National Park. They have serious concerns about the public consultation held last year – they say that at no time has Highways England seriously attempted to find other ways to address the transport issues, as it is required to do.
Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport said: “This scheme is being justified on the basis of saving drivers a few minutes journey time. This is clearly not in the national interest and should not override national policy giving these areas strong protection. To proceed with this scheme would be great folly and something we will strongly resist.”
Fiona Howie, Chief Executive of Campaign for National Parks said: “Since the consultation, the Government has launched its 25 Year Environment Plan to great fanfare. It contains many worthy aims which we fully support. However, it cannot promote such a plan and then see it ripped apart just a few months later by promoting a road that will set such a dangerous precedent for development in National Parks.”
Beccy Speight, Chief Executive of the Woodland Trust said: “Allowing new development to destroy a priceless and irreplaceable asset is pure vandalism of the highest order. It’s worse still when there are alternatives out there that would avoid the devastation this road will wreak. The current proposal is totally out of kilter with the Government’s commitment to strengthen protection for ancient woodland.”
Crispin Truman, Chief Executive, Campaign to Protect Rural England said:
“These plans potentially open the floodgates to further damaging road schemes along the south coast and elsewhere. Our research has found that, far from providing congestion relief, building more and bigger roads actually increases traffic, and at the same time causes unwanted and unnecessary damage to our countryside and landscapes. This suggests that the Arundel scheme is a waste of public money. Highways England must go back to the drawing board and come up with better solutions.”
Vanessa Griffiths, Chief Executive of The Ramblers said: “The Ramblers supports our local Sussex Area Ramblers’ view that the Government’s 'preferred' route for the bypass looks to be the most environmentally damaging of the options presented. We’re keen to work with the Government to develop alternatives which support stated ambitions for landscape, sustainability and physical activity as set out in the 25-year plan for the environment and the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy.”
Craig Bennett, Chief Executive Officer of Friends of the Earth said: “We need 21st Century solutions to tackle traffic. This would mean a thorough assessment and funded plan for better public transport and walking/cycling facilities to encourage less individual vehicle use. The government must stop ploughing through national parks and ancient woodland and look at sensible and sustainable alternative options. Building new roads will only exacerbate our already polluted air and is a step backwards if we want to reduce greenhouse gases in line with the Paris agreement.”
For further information contact:
Campaign for Better Transport press office on 07984 773 468 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CNP - For media enquiries, please contact our campaigns and communications officer Andrew Hall Tel: 0207 981 0891, or email – email@example.com
CPRE Press Officer, Phil Richards - 020 7981 2819 / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ramblers Senior Media and PR Officer, Ellie Clewlow email@example.com Tel. 0207 339 8531
The Woodland Trust Senior PR Officer, Dee Smith Telephone: 0343 770 5654 Email: DeeSmith@woodlandtrust.org.uk
Notes to editors
- List of 10 organisations: Campaign for Better Transport, Campaign for National Parks, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Open Spaces Society, RSPB, The Ramblers, The Wildlife Trusts, The Woodland Trust,
- The South Downs National Park is England’s newest National Park, and came into existence on 31 March 2010
- Highways England’s consultation on the Arundel bypass ran from 22 August to 16 October 2017. Announcement on preferred route: A27 Arundel Bypass
- Government’s 25 year Environment Plan – A Green Future