By Laura Brook
For me, Arundel conjures up images of beautiful architecture, a historic castle and swathes of ancient landscape. However when you mention the Arundel bypass it naturally unleashes a of wave emotion and (metaphorically speaking) depending on which side of the road you sit, will determine the way you view this matter.
Here at the Sussex Wildlife Trust we spent many hours pouring over the consultation documents to ensure we could give a considered and informed opinion on the biodiversity information presented by Highways England. All three consultation options result in a loss of irreplaceable Ancient Woodland, which is nationally recognised as priority habitat. But it was announced in May 2018 that option 5a, which destroys six hectares of ancient woodland, is the preferred route. The route also impacts or destroys populations of priority species (e.g. dormice and bats).
What is hard to fathom is the disjointed way in which we as a country approach major infrastructure projects. We have evidence piling up from government bodies about the damage being done to our environment and the many species that are suffering as a result of this damage. For the Arundel bypass, this case is captured in an excellent blog from the Mid Arun Valley Environmental Survey. You may have heard the Wildlife Trust and others saying that the natural environment will suffer as the result of the Arundel bypass decision, here is the detail about species that will be affected.
It is widely recognised that nature is important for our health and wellbeing, while also delivering diverse economic benefits. Yet here we are still being asked to consider “options” that ignore this. Perhaps the bigger question that needs consulting on is how we put priority back into priority habitat and priority species.