The DfT should stop trying to lay the blame for its shock cancellation of the A27 Chichester bypass scheme at the feet of the local authorities and reverse its decision, the RHA has said.

The fate of the scheme, which was included in the government’s Road Investment Strategy, was revealed in a letter from transport secretary Chris Grayling (pictured) to Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan, last week.

Grayling said he had decided to cancel the scheme and cited the withdrawal of funding support by local councils for the shortlisted options and local opposition as key reasons for his decision.

Grayling added in the letter that delivery of the Arundel A27 bypass “should proceed as planned’.

Responding to the ruling, RHA deputy policy director Duncan Buchanan, accused Grayling of scapegoating the local authorities.

He said: “Reviewing a proposal that is locally controversial is reasonable, but total cancellation as done here and passing the buck onto local authorities for committed investments on the national Strategic Road Network is not acceptable.

"Imagine if this approach was taken on HS2.”

He added: “The RHA is calling on the DfT and Highways England to reopen the programme immediately and to consider all options.

"This must include the northern route options, that Highways England unreasonably dropped from the 2016 consultation, and which seems to have contributed to local discontent.”

Chichester MP Andrew Tyrie criticised Highways England’s choice of options for the ill fated scheme. He wrote on his website that “none of Highways England’s schemes” could unite the community, “so they lost the confidence of the community”.

He added: “And more than £200m of public investment earmarked for the area will now be spent in other parts of the country or handed back to the Treasury.”

Highways England chief executive Jim O’Sullivan said the agency was disappointed at the decision, adding: “But any improvement had to be right for Chichester and there was no overall consensus.

“We will continue to work with partners to monitor the route’s performance and to carry out any short term measures we can to help road users, the local community and the region.”