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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 12:28 GMT
Roads will 'damage' national park
Protest near the site of proposed road improvements at Lewes
Protesters say the plans are "madness" (Picture: FoE)
Major new roads for the south coast are likely to be approved on Wednesday, amid criticism from environmental groups.

The South East Regional Assembly is expected to back proposals for new roads from Southampton to Kent.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) say the roads will cause "massive damage" to the South Downs which are due to become a national park next year.

But supporters of the project say the roads are badly needed to ease increasing congestion in the region.

Road congestion
Congestion is increasing in the region
FoE's regional campaigns co-ordinator, Amanda Brace, said: "These road schemes are sheer madness.

"We must not return to the discredited policy of building more roads to deal with traffic problems.

"It's time we came up with sustainable solutions that put people and the environment first."

The proposals are being considered as part of the South Coast Multi-Modal Study (SoCoMMs), commissioned by the government.

If the regional assembly approves the plans, ministers will have to decide whether to proceed with the plans which could cost more than 1bn.

Angry protesters

Changes would include a bypass around Arundel and a flyover outside Lewes, both in Sussex.

On Monday, people from Lewes held a protest near the site of the proposed flyover between Southerham and Beddingham, which they say is visible from the South Downs and the Ouse Valley.

They are also angry that 25 times more money is being proposed for the new road schemes, as opposed to improving public transport.

FoE says further protests are expected throughout the region.

See also:

14 Nov 02 | England
13 May 01 | UK
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