AN ACTION group has been formed to capitalise on the “best opportunity in years” to improve the A27.

West Sussex County Council has joined with other local authorities, MPs and business leaders to press for a major overhaul of the road.

The A27 Action Campaign, launching next week, is aimed at reducing bottlenecks at Chichester, Arundel and Worthing. The campaign group states heavy congestion on the road “inhibits business investment and growth”.

But environmental campaigners have slammed the proposals, describing the approach as “completely wrong” and turning the clock back to “1960s development perspectives”.

The action group is calling for a number of improvements including two lanes across Sussex and a bypass at Arundel. The group wants improvements to the Worthing-Lancing corridor, including a new junction at Lancing and six improved junctions at Chichester.

Campaigners also want to see improvements to the trunk road junctions at Brighton, Fontwell and the A27/A26 access to Newhaven.

The A27 is one of six problem hotspots nationwide identified by the Government.

A total of £24 billion has been promised for the strategic roads network up to 2021.

Feasibility studies into traffic solutions were completed in February and an announcement on which road improvement projects will get the green light is expected in the Autumn Statement at the end of the year.

Chris Todd, of Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth, said the plans would waste public money and damage the South Downs National Park.

He added: “The proposals are going in completely the wrong direction. We need to be reducing carbon emissions.

“The coastal plain from Hove to Portsmouth is flat and it would be easily possible to encourage cycling levels seen in the Netherlands and Denmark, but the local authority has done little for cyclists while the rail and bus networks suffer from underinvestment.”

A West Sussex County Council spokeswoman said “the best technical data and evidence possible” will be used to back up the campaign.

She added: “Calls for improving the A27 are not new but, for a variety of reasons, these have gone unheeded. “This is the best opportunity for many years to secure the level of investment required to finally give us an A27 that is fit for purpose and which can support the thriving economy the country needs.”