Arundel Bypass: environment campaigners 'appalled' by new routes but MP supports them

The Arundel Bypass project team from Highways England, including programme leader Jason Hones
The Arundel Bypass project team from Highways England, including programme leader Jason Hones

A variety of groups and individuals have reacted to new routes proposed for the Arundel Bypass, including environment campaigners 'appalled' by a lack of eco-friendly alternatives to road building.

This morning, Highways England unveiled six new options for the Arundel Bypass at the launch of the public consultation at the Cathedral Centre in Mount Pleasant, Arundel.

It comes after the Government body went back to the drawing board last year following a High Court legal battle from a resident of Binsted, a village that would be affected by the route that was previously chosen from three options.

CPRE Sussex, a countryside charity that vocally opposed the bypass, said 'none of these offer any green transport alternatives - all would involve the destruction of valuable woodlands and all but one would negatively impact the South Downs National Park'.

Director Kia Trainor said: “We are appalled at the dismissive way Highways England has treated any alternatives to road building.

"Nearly all our councils have now declared a climate emergency and road building on this scale just isn’t compatible with the county’s new emissions targets.

"The money would be far better spent on improving alternative modes transport by investing better rail services and buses. But Highway England has completely failed to consider this as an option which is shocking.”

But Nick Herbert, Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs who got the bypass on the table, welcomed the new routes and re-emphasised his support for an 'offline' route - one that did not follow the current path of the A27.

He believed the 'grey' route - which misses the South Downs National Park entirely - would be ruled out due to it being the most expensive, as well as the 'crimson' route, as it cut through too much ancient woodland.

He said: "This is a scheme I won a few years ago, and my judgement is that the overwhelming majority of the local community is in favour of it."

Derek Waller is vice-chairman of OneArundel, a bypass support group, and was among the first people at the consultation launched today.

The 82-year-old from Surrey Wharf, Arundel, described the new routes as 'confusing'. He said: "The last time of course we had three choices; this time we have six, and probably a better definition of the constraints than previously, and I think it will be quite difficult to find what I would call the route with the least disadvantages.

"I am in no doubt whatsoever that there is a desperate need for an Arundel Bypass as soon as possible."

Mr Waller also backed an offline route.

Other critics of the scheme included residents of Binsted and Walberton, two villages that could be affected by the bypass.

Arundel Bypass programme leader Jason Hones said it had 'a lot of discussions with residents of Binsted' and Walberton Parish Council to understand their views during the route design process.

Objectors of the scheme have criticised how much time and money had been wasted on the previous routes.

To those people, Mr Hones said: "To have a long-term solution for Arundel is never easy. It is right that we have come out with these options, that have been refined with the best information we have so people can make an informed choice."