By Dr Tony Whitbread
It seems that West Sussex County Council has voted to support an environmentally damaging bypass around Arundel and in so doing increase traffic and congestion throughout Sussex. If it goes ahead this road will draw in more traffic from elsewhere, will generate extra car journeys, increase car dependency - more traffic, more traffic jams. To say nothing of the ongoing destruction of irreplaceable habitat, the loss of landscape and ecological connectivity and decimation of populations of internationally protected species.
Mike Tristram, representing the Binstead community, had this to say:
“Yesterday I presented a petition, on behalf of the community of Binsted and over 2000 others who support the Save Binsted campaign, to WSCC’s Environment and Community Services Select Committee. After my speech, representatives also spoke from Walberton (Parish Council), Tortington Local Community, ArundelSCATE and OneArundel.
“Four of the five community groups gave WSCC good traffic, environmental and community reasons why the officers’ recommendation to support Option 5A should be rejected. Appalling damage to Binsted Woods, Binsted Park, the village communities using the National Park in this area, and Tortington, were all cited.
“And yet, four out of the five Select Committee members present voted to trash the ‘Environmental and Community Services’ of this part of Sussex, by supporting Option 5A. The Select Committee ignored WSCC’s deeply-buried Landscape Strategy policy, and their officer persuaded them to regard as ‘minor’ the fundamental flaws in environmental aspects of Highways England’s consultation.
“Highways England are acting with unseemly haste, with a toolkit of badly prepared figures and badly researched data, to try at all human and environmental costs to get spades in the ground before the RIS1 money runs out in 2020. Our local authority representatives, in WSCC and ADC, should not collude in a quick-and-dirty job.
“They seem to think they can do whatever they want on the grounds that the national interest overrides National Park status. But the South Downs National Park was designated in the national interest. The Binsted Woods areas affected by Option 5A, some protected wildlife species and habitats, the heritage landscape of governance in Binsted, are all of national importance. The long term national interest is to save the Binsted area, not to destroy it.”