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HIGHWAY officials are used to opposition in the form of conservationists and angry residents.
But Highways England has found a new enemy – a band of medieval archers.
Following a demonstration by villagers in Binsted on Sunday, October 8, groups of knights and archers decided to take up arms against the controversial A27 Arundel bypass Option 5A, which would cut through acres of protected historic woodland.
Forest Knights, from Bognor, is the first organisation to take aim at the option.
Wayne Jones, the Forest Knights’ leader, said: “The 5A route would have a catastrophic effect on our nature based activities in Binsted woods.
“Binsted woods has a wealth of wildlife which should be kept for future generations to enjoy.
“If we do not resist, we’ll be forced out by traffic noise and by disruption to the wildlife.”
The group gets together regularly to create medieval pottery, dubbed Binsted ware.
Members have also been teaching nature awareness and practical conservation in Binsted Woods for more than 15 years.
Mr Jones said: “We work with schools and colleges, sharing the benefits of the natural world outdoors with young people, people from all walks of life.
“Option 5A would destroy all the good things we do here.”
Also on the warpath over Option 5A, are the Ratpack Archers from Chichester.
Peter Parker, from Ratpack Archers, said: “This would be a great loss to the field archery community.
“The next nearest courses are Petersfield or the Isle of Wight.
“We rediscover here what it was like for our ancestors, hunting in woodland with bows.”
The Ratpack Archers hone their skills by shooting at painted, animal-shaped targets in the ancient woodland.
The medieval groups echo what many have already said about the option – that it threatens the environment.
Option 5A came under attack again last week when it was revealed dormice and water voles live in the woods – both are protected species.
Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee spokesperson Mike Tristram said: “Knights and archers are the tip of the iceberg.
“We are peaceful, law-abiding citizens but we are being given good cause to protest.
“We understand Highways England has provided up to £10 million costs in their Option 3 budget.
“We think they may have underestimated the costs for Option 5A.”
Source: The Argus