A PLANNING committee “strongly objects” to a controversial A27 bypass due to concerns over the impact on wildlife and biodiversity.

The Arundel bypass will cost up to £380 million and is designed to reduce congestion on one of the South’s biggest road bottlenecks.

Protesters over the last few months are concerned over the proposed grey route in terms of pollution, safety and the cost-effectiveness of the project. The route cuts as close to 200 metres from Walberton, near Arundel.

Meanwhile, South Downs National Park Authority's (SDNPA) planning committee said it “welcomed” the fact the bypass does not run into the national park but does have “significant concerns”.

The authority is worried about the impact of the grey route on the setting of the national park in how the landscape will change, as well as views to and from the national park.

The committee also raised concerns over the impact on wildlife and biodiversity in the area “as a result of severance” caused by the bypass.

Protesters gathered outside the SDNPA headquarters in Midhurst on March 10 to plead with the committee to make a “robust rejection” of the plan.

The Argus: The Arundel bypass proposed 'grey' routeThe Arundel bypass proposed 'grey' route

Highways England said it recognises SDNPA’s concerns and will seek to “protect and enhance the environment” as it delivers the A27 Arundel bypass.

A spokesman for SDNPA said: “Members of Planning Committee have today considered the Authority’s response to National Highways’ statutory consultation on the proposed A27 Arundel Bypass.

“The decision on route selection is solely for National Highways, which has a responsibility to take into account the comments of all consultees, including the South Downs National Park Authority.

The Argus: The grey route passes near Arundel Castle which is in the South Downs National Park - picture by Dominic EllettThe grey route passes near Arundel Castle which is in the South Downs National Park - picture by Dominic Ellett

“The proposed bypass of the A27 avoids direct incursion into the National Park, which the Authority welcomes.

“However, the SDNPA has significant concerns regarding the impact of the proposal on the setting of the National Park in respect of landscape character and in views from, and to, the National Park.

“There are concerns regarding the impact on wildlife and biodiversity, as a result of severance caused by the bypass and related effects on habitat quality.

“There also appears to be little consideration of the second purpose of the National Park, as it relates to access and recreation.

“The lack of detailed information around the appearance of structures, associated infrastructure, construction, mitigation and compensation measures has resulted in the Authority being unable to make a fully-informed assessment of the impacts on the National Park.

“Therefore, the Authority strongly objects to this proposal as presented.

“We will continue to work with National Highways and other stakeholders to ensure sufficient consideration and action is taken to address the issues raised.”

The Argus: There have been protests over the grey route for several monthsThere have been protests over the grey route for several months

Andrew Jackson, National Highways programme leader, said: “We have been continuing to work closely with landowners, local communities and statutory authorities including South Downs National Park to develop our proposals. 

“We take pride in being one of the most environmentally responsible road operators in the world, and we will seek to protect and enhance the environment as we deliver the A27 Arundel bypass.

 “We do recognise the South Downs National Park Authority have a number of concerns and questions and we intend to work closely with them over the coming months to address these issues before we finalise the scheme design.”