A27 Arundel Bypass Proposal
National Highways is proposing a huge new 8km dual carriageway south of Arundel.
You can help STOP this damaging scheme: Please respond to the Consultation today using our guide.
The deadline for responses is Tuesday 8th March 2022.
Why is Sussex Wildlife Trust objecting?
As a member of the South Coast Alliance for Transport and Environment (SCATE), the Sussex Wildlife Trust has been campaigning against this road proposal for many, many years. We agree that there are congestion issues around Arundel, but spending hundreds of millions of pounds in a nature-destroying, traffic-inducing, carbon-producing scheme to save 9.3 minutes of travel time is not the solution. Instead we have always favoured a smaller intervention between the Ford Road roundabout and Crossbush Junction, along with far more investment into integrated sustainable travel options.
The National Highways consultation document for this new bypass shows that vulnerable species including the incredibly rare Alcathoe Bat (a woodland specialist only ‘discovered’ in 2010), as well as Hazel Dormice (a priority species at risk of extinction in the UK) and irreplaceable veteran trees will be directly impacted by the proposals - and it’s our assessment that the severity of these impacts has been hugely underestimated. The proposed 8km road will sever critical wildlife corridors, degrade important woodlands and moves us completely in the wrong direction in terms of the climate and ecological emergencies. We urgently need to reduce travel by private car, not spend millions of pounds building more roads.
What is Sussex Wildlife Trust most concerned about?
- No recent detailed ecological survey information or hydrological modelling has been provided with the consultation - without this we cannot assess National Highways’ claims there will be minimal wildlife impacts
- There is not enough information about how surveys have been undertaken, so we cannot assess whether best practice has been followed. If this work hasn’t been carried out correctly, the results are invalid and cannot be relied upon to draw any meaningful conclusions
- It is not clear that the preferred 'grey' route has been informed by surveys, as most of the previous surveys from before 2019 were looking at areas impacted by alternative route ideas. For example, this route cuts across Binsted Rife in a completely different location than previous proposals.
- There is no detail on which elements of the proposal are affecting which areas: for example, haulage routes are required to build the road but we haven’t been told where these will go, so cannot assess their potentially significant impact
- 15 species of bat use the area – these are nationally significant populations that will be severed by a dual carriageway
- National Highways is proposing to create two "green bridges" to reduce wildlife impacts, particularly for bats – but has not provided any information to demonstrate that these will be effective in terms of their location and design. It is critical to get this right, and without thorough assessment, these could prove to be extremely costly mistakes. (It's important to note that these "green bridges" still have roads on them, they are just a bit wider with more habitat on one side).
- The impacts on some ancient woodlands and ancient and veteran trees remain unknown. Despite claims that there will be no direct destruction of these irreplaceable habitats, they remain at risk of degradation and deterioration if the new road goes ahead. This is not acceptable.
Overall, we are seriously concerned that the Sussex Wildlife Trust and others will not be able to comment any further on all these unknown impacts until the Examination of the Development Consent Order – which is much too late in the process.
What about the Government’s commitments to nature?
The global ecological emergency is unfolding in front of our eyes and we are still losing wildlife. The most recent State Of Nature report highlighted a staggering 41% of UK species have declined in abundance since 1970. We have seen a flurry of reports, strategies and plans to address this biodiversity loss, culminating with royal assent of the Environment Act 2021. The Government is hailing this as world leading environmental legislation, with a clear aim to halt the decline in species by 2030 - and yet there has been no let-up in the net loss of nature in the UK, with the Government’s own assessment indicating that the UK will fail to meet the majority of its global biodiversity targets. The National Highways consultation document for this new bypass shows that vulnerable species and irreplaceable veteran trees will be directly impacted by the proposals - and it’s our assessment that the severity of these impacts has been hugely underestimated. The proposed 8km road will sever critical wildlife corridors and degrade important woodlands. Is it really in the public’s interest to allow such wide scale destruction of nature to go ahead?
What about the Government’s commitments to climate change?
The Government has made clear and bold commitments to address climate change through the Climate Change Act 2008 that intends to see us reach net zero by 2050. When this is considered alongside the recommendations of the Transport for the South East Strategy, which states that car dependency must be reduced by 20%, how can the prioritisation of a multi-million pound road scheme be compatible?
Studies have shown that most of the traffic on the existing road is only travelling a short distance, so could be transferred to walking, cycling and public transport with proper investment. In a time when we have seen global change and huge shifts in home-working practices we need a government to ensure that schemes coming forward are based on realistic transport data that considers current and emerging patterns, and delivers a sustainable transport system for all.
What about the Government’s commitments to the landscape?
In order for biodiversity to thrive, the landscape needs to function fully and naturally, providing the connections and corridors required for wildlife to survive, move and adapt in the face of a changing climate. The Lawton Review of 2010, which underpinned our drive towards the Environment Act 2021, clearly stated that we need bigger, better more, and joined-up spaces for nature. Yet this is a scheme that will impact protected Local Wildlife Sites and priority habitats, cutting across the floodplain with currently unknown impacts on flood risk and all the associated wetland habitats and species.
What happened previously?
N.B. National Highways was previously known as Highways England.
Autumn 2017: Highways England consulted on three options for road-building along the A27 at Arundel. These included new stretches of dual carriageway and road widening schemes that would destroy ancient woodlands and smother vulnerable and rare chalk stream habitat.
You can read Sussex Wildlife Trust's response to the 2017 consultation here (pdf).
May 2018: Highways England announced that after looking at the consultation responses, option 5A was their preferred route. You can read their preferred route announcement here (pdf).
We were appalled to hear that such an environmentally damaging decision had been made, with apparently no regard for the Government's own transport hierarchy. This short-sighted decision would result in the destruction of irreplaceable habitats and fail to bring the stated benefits of reducing congestion.
Autumn 2019: Highways England decided to carry out a further non-statutory consultation for the A27 Arundel Bypass scheme (30 August - 24 October 2019). All six options presented in the 2019 consultation included new stretches of dual carriageway that would destroy and sever precious habitats including ancient woodlands and rare chalk streams.
Sussex Wildlife Trust raised concerns that all six options:
- would significantly and permanently sever our natural environment, having an outrageous impact on wildlife and the landscape
- would increase carbon emissions and make it much harder to meet the legal target of net-zero carbon by 2050
- would harm the South Downs National Park
- involved dual carriageways rather than an option for a wide single carriageway that could minimise impacts on precious ancient woodland
Watch our call to action from the autumn 2017 consultation: