WALK through most woods near the A27 and you can hear the faint hum of cars rushing down the road.

But despite the quiet rush of cars in the background, nature is still dominant in Tortington Common, near Arundel.

Deer can be seen prancing around the outskirts of the ancient woodland, while at night bats and dormice come out to forage.

But Sussex Wildlife Trust president Tony Whitbread says that will all change if the Arundel A27 bypass is built.

“Tortington Common is centuries old, it could date back to the Ice Age,” he said.

“This woodland is older than Arundel Castle.

“Could you imagine Highways England building a road straight through the middle of it?”

Transport chiefs have presented six colour-coded options for an A27 bypass.

Arun District Council and Arundel MP Nick Herbert have backed the controversial “magenta” route, which involves a bridge over Binsted village.

But the “crimson” plan will cleave Tortington wood in half with almost four miles of new dual carriageway.

Wildlife expert Mr Whitbread said the route would devastate species in the wood.

“Habitats will be split up, which means species can die out because they can’t forage for food,” he said.

“Bats won’t be able to get across four lanes of traffic to find food.

“That will seriously harm bats here, not to mention the possibility of them getting hit by cars.”

Bats will not be the only species coming to harm if a bypass is built.

“Dormice need 20 hectares of forest to survive,” said Mr Whitbread.

“Tortington Wood is made up of 30 hectares, but that will be halved by the new road.

“Woods are robust within reason, but this will be destructive.”

Unusual plants also inhabit the forest.

Butchers-broom, named after its spiky leaves, appears in sprigs around Tortington Common.

But because it takes centuries to spread through the ground, it could potentially disappear from the forest if a bypass is built.

Mr Whitbread said no bypass option was a good option for Sussex’s wildlife.

“It’s just a knee-jerk reaction from the Government,” he said.

“It won’t do anything except encourage more cars to come here.

“If there’s no traffic jam here, one will form somewhere else, then they’ll to build another.”

Highways England was asked for a comment.