Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Bypass Debate

There are always winners and losers in any debate, unfortunately the switch of a number of people and councils to support Route 5a over the Pink Blue (Option 3) or Option 1 has consequences to some communities .

Arun District Council’s Cabinet supported Route 5a, West Sussex County Councils Scrutiny meeting did the same, most Parish councils north of the Downs have supported 5a.

When I write this column, we are still awaiting for Littlehampton Town Councils decision and also Arundel towns Council,  

I have supported the Pink Blue route since I was elected in 2003, I have campaigned for it,  but during the debate it became evident that there was an obstacle to choosing that route because of several factors. 

Green lobbyists Successfully pushed for the South Downs National Park to be pushed south of the existing A27, also they lobbyied successfully to have Tortington Common (Re-Planted Conifers) to be designated as Ancient Woodland.

SDNPA have objected to all three options,  Option 1 would have destroyed 5.5 hectares of Ancient woodland, Option 3 - 26 hectares and Option 5a - 6 hectares.  But Highways England have committed to replace Ancient woodland at a ratio of 30 to 1, so if 5a is adopted then there would be the need to replant new indigenous forest of 182 hectares (bigger than the whole of Arundel put together).

This was all explained in a briefing by Highways England, but the real crux comes in the fast track infrastructure planning instrument that is being used for the bypass so it can start building in 2020.

The Secretary of State has a legal and binding duty not to go ahead with a route that cuts through Ancient woodland if there is an alternative that is less damaging, eg because Tortington Common is now Ancient woodland the SoS can’t push that through and has to opt for option 5a.

So the Green campaigners who successfully campaigned for Tortington Common to be redesignated to Ancient Woodland (Some of them from Binsted) will reap the results of that decision by having a bypass built close to the village.

Politically it would have been better for me to sit on the fence between Option 3 and Option 5a as many are doing, But I think it’s better to come out and say what I mean so I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that if we are to have an offline bypass then it will have to be 5a for the reasons stated, one caveat is I think we need a junction at Ford road to alleviate Yapton Lane traffic, 

I know I will lose votes for that decision at the next election, but I have always tried to give an honest view.

Until next month, Paul dendle is Ward member for Arundel and Walberton, email is cllr.paul.dendle@arun.gov.uk.

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