MP: 'back the National Park relief road'
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert renewed his call for an Arundel bypass to tackle congestion and relieve traffic through the historic town and the South Downs National Park.
In a statement to a meeting of the South Downs National Park Authority on Monday (1 October), Mr Herbert made the case that the Magenta route within the further round of consultation by Highways England would act as a “National Park relief road”, significantly diverting traffic away from the South Downs. The route is favoured by Arundel Town Council, other local authorities and elected representatives.
Mr Herbert said that the choice in front of them was between “2km of the A27 trunk road going through the Park, or less than three quarters of a kilometre. A two thirds increase in traffic going through the Park, or more than a four-fifths decrease. Only a proper offline bypass would take traffic away from the Park.”
The consultation document from Highways England also reveals that commuters using the A27 at Arundel twice a day could save between an hour and an hour-and-a-half of journey time every week with the new bypass.
Highways England has been forced to re-run the route consultation after facing judicial review of the process. An original planned start date for the bypass of Spring 2020 has been delayed until 2022-23. However, funding for the bypass remains in place.
Mr Herbert said that those wanting to stop the bypass wouldn’t be stopping traffic: “It will simply mean ever more cars and lorries rat-running through the South Downs, though the villages, through historic Arundel, through the National Park.”
“It is time to listen to this silent majority who live in and near the National Park and who have put up with lorries and cars thundering through their villages for too long. The traffic in Storrington is so bad that it has one of the worst levels of air pollution in the country.”
Mr Herbert has campaigned strongly for an Arundel bypass, winning the Government’s announcement of the scheme together with funding of up to £250 million in December 2014.
The further consultation on the A27 Arundel Bypass by Highways England is open from 30 August until 24 October 2019.
Nick Herbert’s statement to the South Downs National Park Authority Members on 1 October 2019:
Thank you for allowing me to submit my views on the Arundel Bypass. I am sorry that I cannot attend in person today, but a few things are going on at Westminster
I have a very simple point to make. A proper offline bypass would take traffic away from the Park.
The Magenta route favoured by Arundel Town Council, other local authorities and elected representatives including me, would reduce traffic in the Park by up to 84 per cent at Arundel and 27 per cent through the Downs.
This route barely touches the Park. Less than three quarters of a kilometre of the route would pass through it.
By contrast, an ‘online’ route - quite apart from not being a bypass at all and severing Arundel unacceptably - would mean 2km of the route going through the Park.
In fact the existing route of the A27 goes through the Park, whereas a proper bypass would miss it.
So this is the choice:
2km of the A27 trunk road going through the Park, or less than three quarters of a kilometre.
A two thirds increase in traffic going through the Park, or more than a four-fifths decrease.
Some have urged a single carriageway road through Arundel. But that wouldn’t relieve congestion on the A27 at all, and it’s not one of the options.
Others call for a tunnel, a lovely idea but another red-herring: totally unaffordable, so not an option, either.
Some would do nothing. But the problem won’t go away. With ever more local development, the volume of queuing and rat-running traffic will only increase.
28,000 more vehicles a day through the National Park at Arundel.
23,000 more vehicles a day through the South Downs.
Stopping the bypass won’t stop traffic. It will simply mean ever more cars and lorries rat-running through the South Downs, though the villages, through historic Arundel, through the National Park.
My judgement, as MP for Arundel & South Downs for over 15 years, is that the vast majority of local people want the bypass.
It is time to listen to this silent majority who live in and near the National Park and who have put up with lorries and cars thundering through their villages for too long.
The traffic in Storrington is so bad that it has one of the worst levels of air pollution in the country.
They know perfectly well that an Arundel bypass would relieve this traffic. They despair that a scheme which has been planned for decades still has not come to fruition.
And they will not easily forgive the National Park if it continues to stand in the way of a scheme which can only benefit the tranquility of their villages and the South Downs.
It is essential that the A27 is upgraded. This is a national infrastructure project, and in the end it must - and will - go ahead.
But a proper Arundel bypass will not be to the detriment of the Park. It will benefit the Park.
It is a National Park relief road, and for that reason I believe members of the Authority should back it.