As a statutory consultee, the council’s preferred route will be taken into consideration by Highways England which is analysing all the responses of a consultation which ended on the 16th October.
The preferred route would see the bypass run from Crossbush Junction and reconnect with the A27 north of Walberton. The scheme is staunchly opposed by local and national campaign groups over its environmental impacts - particularly the loss of ancient woodland.
In a letter to secretary for state for transport, Chris Grayling, nine campaign groups – including the RSPB, Greenpeace, Campaign to Protect Rural England and The Woodland Trust – argued that any of the potential routes would constitute unacceptable development within the South Downs National Park and cause the loss of a significant amount of ancient woodland.
The letter cites government guidance to avoid major development in National Parks, highlighting the recent dropping of the Selmeston bypass due to its impact on the South Downs National Park. However, West Sussex County Council argues that overall, the environmental impacts of the preferred route (5A) if appropriately mitigated, would be significantly outweighed by the long-term economic benefits.
Councillor Bob Lanzer, the council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, commented "provided that a high-quality package of environmental mitigation measures is identified and delivered as part of the scheme, option 5A is the council’s preferred option".