Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
CHV trees and sun

Photo by Oliver Tookey

Plans for paving over nature

Are you aware that the current government plans on building 191 roads throughout England and Wales?, asks HOT’s, Zelly Restorick.

Road Building Map 2012

Section of road building programme map Image from Campaign for Better Transport

I found out about it via a report published on the Campaign for Better Transport website (see below for link to report). They suggest this might only be the tip of the proverbial road-building iceburg.

772 miles of road construction is planned – the same distance from the Scilly Isles at the tip of the West Country to the Shetland Isles in Scotland [for full map, see link below].


The roads will affect:
234 wildlife sites
54 ancient woods
4 national parks
7 areas of outstanding natural beauty
395 sites of special scientific interest
3 nature reserves

Is this okay with you?  For this ‘green and pleasant land’?

The road building programme is currently estimated to cost £30billion (and you know how accurate estimates are on building programmes). Do you think this is a wise way to spend this amount of money?

Combe Haven

Combe Haven Valley Photo by Derrick Coffee

The first road to be built as part of this programme is the Bexhill Hastings Link Road – and the other day, I spent some time in Combe Haven Valley taking a look at the area the road will pass through.

ESCC have declared this place to be ‘an area of tranquility’ – and ‘an area of extreme remoteness’.

Imagine… the development planning people discussing where it might be a good place to build a road – and concluding it was through an area of tranquility and remoteness.

This wasn’t the Department of Transport’s conclusion in March of this year.  They said the road wasn’t good value for money nor regarding carbon emissions, but they were unfortunately over-ridden by others higher up the government chain.

Please, think about this… Does it make sense to you to build a road through an area that offers the incredibly important qualities of tranquility and remoteness?  Consider the research that says how vitally important nature is to us humans…. trees cleaning the air of pollution, producing oxygen, absorbing carbon emissions… that nature is good for our sense of well-being and health and that we need places such as this to escape urban life at times.

“Not only do natural spaces protect the essential systems of life and biodiversity, they also provide a fundamental setting for health promotion and the creation of well-being for urban populations”
Mailer, Townsend, Pryor, Brown and St Leger (2005)

Building a noisy, polluting road through a place like Combe Haven is – to me and others – a tragedy.  Yet the bulldozers are due to arrive in January.

Combe Haven Valley

Combe Haven Valley Photo by Derrick Coffee

Standing high up on a platform with a panoramic view of the surrounding beauty, it really hit me that this road is planned to be built through a valley – and that it’s currently flooded.

One local resident spoke to me about the high level of flooding the valley – and even some of the houses in the village of Crowhurst – experience.  I also chatted to one of the road planning engineers, who happened to be working there, who said that, in their professional view, it wasn’t an ideal plan to build a road.  Another resident mentioned mist and fog – and how it surely wasn’t the best place re safety for drivers?

My impression is that many people believe that this road is inevitable.  A ‘done deal’. It’s not. Other roads were stopped, even at the very last minute, during the 1990’s road building programme… so please don’t go thinking it’s too late to do something if you oppose the plans. It definitely isn’t.

So, if you believe that building the link road through this valley isn’t a good idea – or if you think there are alternatives to a mass road building programme – or if you think this isn’t the wisest way to spend money (currently estimated at £104million+ for the BHLR and £30 billion for the road programme throughout England and Wales), I entreat you to do something. Please – take action!

Here’s some suggestions as to what you can do…

You can contact the Campaign for Better Transport, Hastings Alliance, the Combe Haven Defenders, your MP [Amber Rudd in Hastings and Rye and Gregory Barker in Bexhill, also Minister of State for Climate Change], Leader of ESCC, Peter Jones or your local counsellor. You can spread the word and talk to other people – and let them know the plans.  And go and take a look at Combe Haven Valley and see what you think for yourself. Plus a myriad of other ideas that can be explored.

Combe Haven Valley is an incredibly beautiful place.  The valley and its natural residents have no voice themselves in our society, so it’s up to us humans to do something.  If you care, please do something to protect them and our own local piece of peace.  There is still time… the fat lady ain’t singing yet. Seize the moment and be a Combe Haven Hero!

Report from Campaign for Better Transport here.

Map of England and Wales road planning programme here.

Amber Rudd: MP for Hastings and Rye website here.

Gregory Barker : MP for Bexhill and Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change website here.

Peter Jones, Leader of ESCC and Chair of the Cabinet:
Website here.

Hastings Alliance (Saving The Combe Valley) website here.
Combe Haven Defenders website here.

Posted 21:19 Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012 In: Campaigns


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Chris Cormack

    The anti-road lobby continue to peddle non-truths about the Department for Transport lack of support of the BHLR: reference is made to a March 2012 letter(s) that is said to state that the road is poor value for money and includes criticism of carbon emissions.

    In fact the documents state that a “reasonable argument can be constructed that the scheme represents either high or low value for money” and in the second document infers that its own assessment is lower than ESCC’s assessment of high value for money but not “poor value”.

    The documents do not refer to carbon emissions specifically but they state that “Natural England and other statutory environmental bodies removed statutory environmental objections during the planning process.”

    Elsewhere the documents repeat the Department’s arguments in favour of the link road made in the prior year’s inspector’s findings. They also refer to a meeting of 15 March with Hastings Alliance to listen to arguments against the road but concluded that the points made “enhanced the evidence review but did not materially change it”.

    To make the case that the DfT do not support the road directly contradicts the unequivocal support clearly stated in the Inspector’s 2011 report and the March 2012 documents they rely on. Their case relies on redacted parts of the documents which they assume (but do not know) supports their case. Redactions are made for various reasons, but to make such suppositions is an act of paranoia with conspiracy theory filled overtones that bears no relationship with reality.

    The protestors have reached the end of the democratic road for legitimate objections to the road and have failed to convince with their case. I put it to them that a substantial majority of people in Hastings and Bexhill are in favour of the road and that any further action by the protestors is anti-democratic – an example of a minority wanting to impose their views on the majority.

    Comment by Chris Cormack — Tuesday, Dec 18, 2012 @ 21:32

  2. Paul scott

    I’m from eastbourne and am happy to write to some of your suggested links. Regards.

    Comment by Paul scott — Thursday, Dec 13, 2012 @ 18:29

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