By Henri Brocklebank
Director of Conservation
Everything has changed but nothing has changed.
On Friday last week the consultation on the Arundel A27 scheme was opened. As Sussex Wildlife Trust we are appalled by the latest options.
Since we last visited this sorry scenario October 2017 climate has shot up the agenda. Two years ago we all knew that we needed to reduce carbon emissions and we had some targets. Then the declaration by the UK Government in May 2019 of a Climate Emergency hurled the whole topic into sharper focus, as it was followed by the announcement that our government have legislated for Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. So in 30 years' time we will have stopped emissions? So in 15 years we should have reduced by half at least? In fact, there are many who say this ambition is too low.
It is critical that this national thinking is integrated into all Government departments. Building new roads is not how we turn our UK transport emissions around. 33% of our emissions, nationally come from transport and the vast majority of this is from our roads. Over the coming years and decades we will all be reducing our transport footprints very significantly. Our lifestyles are changing and will continue to change. How is this thinking in any way embedded into this new consultation? Well, it isn’t.
We are suffering catastrophic loss in wildlife. The evidence has been gathered, the experts have been convened and Governments across the world, including the UK Government recognise this. So if this is the case why are we looking at road schemes that sever our Sussex Ancient Woodlands and floodplains, that destroy irreplaceable habitats? Just the sheer number of bat species in the Arundel area tells us how very very special the woodland and hedgerow network is through this landscape. Severance and destruction of our natural environment is one of the reasons we find ourselves in this terrible state. The Welsh Assembly recently halted a £1.4 Billion extension of the M4 relief road on these very environmental principles. I applaud them for making a bold decision based on that truth.
I write this on day five of a six week consultation (It ends on the 24th October) and my Conservation team will be reading through the reams of evidence associated with the six presented options. We must and will respond to the consultation, but not before we question the lack of foresight and principal in its basic premise.