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Anti road protesters at Combe Haven

Combe Haven anti road campaigners

Campaign against BHLR steps up a gear

Roughly two hundred people attended a “Stop the Road” Camp & Rally in Combe Haven Valley on 29/30 September, celebrating the beauty of the valley and enjoying a remarkable weekend of speeches, workshops, shadow puppetry, children’s theatre, story-telling, campfires, local music and great food. Nearly half of those attending signed a new pledge, expressing their willingness to ‘take part in acts of peaceful resistance to the road’, with some fifty people taking part in an “Introduction to Direct Action” workshop on the Saturday afternoon.

The two-day event, organised by local group Combe Haven Defenders, was held to develop resistance to the £100m+ Bexhill Hastings Link Road (BHLR) – work on which is currently scheduled to start in January 2013 – and received national coverage in both the Daily Mail and Sunday Times.

Environmentalist John Stewart

Workshop with environmental campaigner, John Stewart

At a packed workshop, renowned environmentalist, John Stewart, explained how other similar projects have been stopped at the ‘eleventh hour’ in the past. For example, the planned six-lane highway through the historic Oxleas wood in South East London was successfully blocked after campaigners mobilised thousands of people to sign a “Beat the Bulldozers” pledge to blockade construction if it went ahead.

Combe Haven Defenders spokesperson Andrea Needham said: “Last weekend’s camp & rally was just the first step of a new phase in the campaign to stop the needless destruction of our historic and beautiful valley. We intend to mobilise locally – and nationally – to prevent this wasteful and environmentally disastrous project.”

Further action is planned for this Friday [5 October] from 9.15am – 10am outside the High Court in London. Anti-roads activists, dressed as badgers, bats and dormice, will support the appeal against the decision to refuse a judicial review into government funding for the BHLR, the first and the worst of the ‘hundreds of new roads’ planned by Chancellor George Osborne.

Friday’s appeal is being brought by the Hastings Alliance, a coalition of national and local organisations opposed to the construction of the BHLR. The action outside the court has been called by a separate local group, the Combe Haven Defenders. The adverse impact of the road on the area’s badgers, bats, dormice and its Site of Special Scientific Interest is noted in the East Sussex County Council’s own 2007 “Environmental Statement” on the road.

Ed Davey, Sec of State

Meeting with Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change

Mr Osborne wants to spend billions of pounds building hundreds of new roads, many of them pointless and damaging schemes successfully stopped by the 1990s’ anti-roads movement. Of the 45 transport schemes approved in the budget by the Department of Transport, the £100m+ BHLR is the worst in terms of carbon emissions.

Gabriel Carlyle, a spokesperson for the Defenders, said: ‘Even as scientists report a record Arctic ice melt – indicating that man-made climate change is progressing at a faster pace than had been anticipated – George Osborne wants to spend billions of pounds building hundreds of new roads. The £100m Bexhill-Hastings Link Road is the first and the worst of these schemes. We urge all those concerned about this devastating assault on our countryside to support peaceful resistance to this disastrous project.’

Speaking for the Hastings Alliance, Chairman Nick Bingham said “This is a very important day for us in our 12 year campaign to shed light on a road scheme evidently based on shaky grounds and wildly optimistic assertions from promoters, East Sussex County Council.


'Stop The Road' Campaigners

Last weekend’s ‘Rally in the Valley’ showed us just how much local people resent the destruction predicted by a major and expensive road carrying up to 30,000 vehicles a day through a peaceful and beautiful valley.

Experts inside and outside government have already concluded that alternatives have not been fully and properly investigated. That alone is reason enough to halt this scheme – the worst by far for CO2 emissions among the 45 transport schemes currently in development in England.”

Further actions are planned for Tuesday 16 October, outside the next full meeting of East Sussex County Council (ESCC) in Lewes.

For more details, contact :

Combe Haven Defenders : Mob 07926 423 033 or via Facebook or website.

Hastings Alliance : Mob 0795 1084436  or website.

For The Pledge, click here.


Posted 09:35 Wednesday, Oct 3, 2012 In: Green Times

Also in: Green Times

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