Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Celebrate Combe Haven

In a survey of their natural assets, East Sussex County Council (ESCC) have identified Combe Haven as a site of exceptional tranquility – far away from road noise and human interference. This also makes it a site of scientific interest, with an abundance of rare wildlife and an area of natural beauty, writes HOT journalist Erica Smith.

Hewson Map Tranquillity & Remoteness Maps of Hastings and Bexhill area of East Sussex

The maps above are studies showing tranquility and remoteness in the Hastings and Bexhill area. The proposed road route is shown as a red dotted line and cuts through the middle of the quietest, most remote area.

Particularly in a time of major finanical cutbacks  – and melting icecaps – it seems schizophrenic of ESCC to agree to match central government funding and offer £50 million of local council tax payers’ money so £100 million can be spent building three miles of road bang through the centre of the most tranquil area. This is a complete U-turn on previous studies which showed that building a road between Hastings and Bexhill would draw economic activity out of Hastings, rather than encourage local business.

Hastings Alliance have spent 17 years successfully campaigning against a road in this area. However, since Amber Rudd was elected, she has pushed for the road link, and like the U-turn on the third runway at Heathrow, it looks like the Tories within the coalition government are pushing through their plans for development, flying in the face of everything we have learned about sustainable transport policies.

In July, The Hastings Alliance appeal for a judicial review about road building was turned down. They have put in an application for the appeal decision to be investigated, with the hope that the government will see sense. If they are not successful, road-building will start in January 2013.

Local resident, Emily Johns, is a member of a singing group which specialises in  folk songs from protest movements. One song, about the anti-road movement in the 1990s caught the attention of a young listener. When she realised that a road might be built locally, the little girl was drawn to tears. Emily decided that we couldn’t let this little girl down, and Combe Haven deserved the attention of the local population.

The event on Saturday 29 September has been organised by the Combe Haven Defenders to celebrate this beautiful area. Part of the reason for its beauty is that it is isolated – and that means it is easy to forget – or to never know – what we will lose if it is turned into another fast road which will soon be clogged up with more local traffic.

The organisers say this will be an opportunity to find out more about the area, and the viable alternatives to the road, but also to explore the motivations behind spending £100 million on a link road – and to share a picnic. John Stewart, ‘Britain’s most successful road campaigner’ will be there to explain ways to help stop the road.

For more information, visit the Combe Haven Defenders website or ‘like’ their page on Facebook.

Posted 14:44 Friday, Sep 7, 2012 In: Home Ground

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