Chichester Harbour Conservancy met on 12 September to consider a response to the public consultation on the proposed improvements to the A27 at Chichester.
Roger Price, the Chairman of the Conservancy, said, "After carefully examining all of the consulted Options, Members concluded that none of the proposals are satisfactory. They would each have an adverse impact on the Chichester Harbour Area Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Ramsar Site, the Special Protection Area (SPA), the Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Highways England is therefore advised to consider alternative Options."
Chichester Harbour was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1964, in recognition of its nationally important landscape. It is internationally protected for its birdlife and habitats.
The A27 Scheme is a major development and therefore great weight needs to be given to protecting the AONB (National Planning Policy Framework 116).
The Conservancy objects to all the consulted Options for the following reasons:
• Options 1, 1A and 2 would see the A259 realigned across Fishbourne Meadows in the Chichester Harbour AONB to make room for an embankment next to the proposed fly-over at Fishbourne roundabout. The new route of the A259 will cut across 7,000 square metres of existing green fields in the protected area and be in very close proximity of the historic and Listed St Peter and St Mary Church.
• Options 3 and 3A are on the boundary of the AONB and will have a detrimental impact on the landscape. These Options are clearly short to medium term solutions and will perpetuate traffic congestion around the AONB.
In the view of the Conservancy the consultation is flawed because Highways England have not demonstrated due regard for the AONB as required by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. The validity of the consultation could also be challenged on a number of technical grounds.
None of the consulted Options meet the legal requirement to conserve or enhance the natural beauty of the AONB.
A Chichester bypass, separating through traffic from local traffic, would have a long term beneficial impact on the AONB. It would take traffic away from the boundary, thereby distancing air, noise and light pollution from this protected area.
Highways England is advised to consider other Options that were not part of the consultation, including northern routes, to find a long-term solution that does not damage the AONB and best serves local communities.