A global environmental group waded into the A27 Bypass debate, calling for Highways England to be scrapped.
On Tuesday, Friends of the Earth’s chief executive Craig Bennett visited the exhibition of the controversial route in Mill Road car park, Arundel, where he objected to the six routes on offer. He then led demonstrators along the potential route: along River Arun, through the Tortington woods and to Binsted.
He said: “A dual carriageway at Arundel spells disaster for the South Downs National Park. Highways England’s approach to transport issues around Arundel is completely at odds with the climate emergency we are facing right now.
“The Department for Transport has gone completely rogue on climate; making no effort to reduce emissions or invest in alternatives to the car such as affordable train travel and safe cycling routes.
“A good place to start would be scrapping Highways England altogether. It’s not fit for purpose, and needs to be replaced with an agency that looks at transport in the round.”
The consultation runs until October 24. It offers six colour-coded routes for the public to choose from. Cyan and beige follow the path of the existing A27 through Arundel, and the four others diverge to the south at the Crossbush junction. Three of these – crimson, magenta and amber – cut through woodland to varying degrees and grey bypasses the South Downs National Park.
West Sussex county councillor Gary Markwell, who represents Arundel & Courtwick division, and Arun District councillor Grant Roberts, who represents Arundel & Walberton, both joined MP Nick Herbert in backing the magenta route.
He said: “I believe the best route for local residents to get behind to ensure a real bypass is actually built is the magenta route.”
A special meeting of Arun District Council is due to take place tonight to discuss the council’s stance on the proposed routes.
Initially, officers recommended the council to support the magenta route. But in a statement on the Arun website, chief executive Nigel Lynn said he would withdraw this advice and replace it with open-ended recommendations after party leaders expressed their concern. He said: “I believe that these revised recommendations will allow a greater transparency and more democratic debate on all the options put forward.”
Highways England has been approached for comment.