The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) is to launch a judicial review challenge over Highways England’s choice of a preferred route for the A27 Arundel Scheme.
Highways England has selected a modified version of Option 5A as the preferred route for the scheme, which would pass through the South Downs National Park, including an ancient woodland at Binsted.
The park authority said Highways England’s own environmental experts had stated that this route would cause “significant damage” to the national park’s landscapes.
Margaret Paren, Chair of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “We are not commencing proceedings for a judicial review lightly but we believe that Highways England have not followed the correct procedure, which was to set out, to the same level of detail, all of the options inside and outside the National Park.
“This led to them discounting options outside of the National Park too early in the process, and they have not provided any detail on mitigation and compensation for any of the routes."
Paren said the park authority wanted to work with Highways England “so that they can find a solution to the traffic issues at Arundel that also protects the National Park for future generations, including having discussions around mitigation and compensation measures”.
The park authority noted that paragraph 5.15 of the National Policy Statement on National Networks states that planning permission should be refused for major developments in national parks except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest.
It said consideration of these applications should include an assessment of the cost of, and scope for, developing elsewhere outside the national park; and opportunities to moderate any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities.
“The SDNPA do not believe that the Planning Inspector would be satisfied that Highways England have met these considerations,” the park authority added.