The nationally significant infrastructure project was identified by the government in its 2015-20 first road investment strategy. With a budget of between £100-250m it aims to replace the existing single carriageway road with dual carriageway along a 6km stretch. It is part of a number of upgrades along the A27 designed at improving capacity and condition in the only east-to-west trunk road south of the M25, a route currently used by 750,000 people.
While the EIA for the project is still ongoing Highways England’s consultation document admits that "all three routes have significant environmental impacts with the potential to adversely impact nature conservation, heritage features, landscape, soils, noise and hydrology. However it also states some of these can be mitigated and compensated through design.
The environmental appraisal aspect of the consultation finds "major adverse impacts" on the South Downs National Park, Cultural Heritage and Nature Conservation for all three routes. Additionally major adverse impacts were identified for landscape, geology and soils, materials and road drainage for options 3 and 5A.
Highways England have followed current planning rules which deems any woodland which has been in continuous use since 1600 AD as ancient woodland. However, the A27 Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee believes Highways England is overlooking connected woodland which is "equally species rich" and around 200 years old. As a result the group has stated the approval of option 5a would represent a "scandalous case of a planning regulation causing the maximum possible destruction".
HE has stated it intends to compensate for the loss of any ancient woodland through compensatory woodland planting - but would not give any details on how it would do this until the statutory public consultation on the preferred route in spring 2018.