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The Long Rake Spar site photographed from the nearby schoolhouse showing a cloud of dust

Planning application at Rye Harbour threatens wildlife and local community’s well-being

HOT’s Erica Smith visited Rye Harbour to investigate what has been making the villagers lose sleep at night.

Those of you who have visited the nature reserve at Rye Harbour will know the turning off the A259 into Harbour Road. First you pass the River Brede Moorings, and travel onwards past light industrial estates on both sides of the road. A pretty little 19th Century church on the south side of the road marks the start of the village, and the road continues through the village to the Harbour, holiday park and nature reserve.

Until recently wildlife, villagers, tourists and industry have lived in harmony, but the expansion of an aggregate company called Long Rake Spar has led to over 100 objections on the Rother District Council planning portal and a petition with over 600 local signatures.

A couple of years ago, Long Rake Spar was given planning permission to build new premises. Since then, the business has expanded and since the end of lockdown the site has sometimes been manufacturing from 4am and not stopping until 2am. Floodlights have been used so work can continue through the night and the noise levels have proved to be anti-social. Not only that, but the process of breaking up the aggregate has caused huge clouds of dust as well as noise.

The Long Rake Spar site is in close proximity to the village church and old school house which has been a residential property for at least 40 years.

A local resident said: “I’ve lived in the Harbour all my life and at the old school house (near the church) for 40 years. In that time we’ve had Spun Concrete behind us, Hall & Co to the side and Gould’s in the middle of the village – all of which caused no problems at all… Now I come to Long Rake Spar – which I have no objection to – even with it expanding. What I worry about is the application for 24-hour running. The day time noise is acceptable but not night time. All the industrial businesses around here start at a reasonable time 7.00/7.30 am and finish at 5.00 pm and are closed at weekends. That’s all I ask. Many members of my family have worked – and still do work – within the industries so I’m well aware of how important they are for us all. We have a lovely village here and even living with all the industry around us we’ve managed to live in harmony. Long may it continue.”

Dr Barry Yates, Sussex Wildlife Trust

Dr Barry Yates of Sussex Wildlife Trust, manages the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. He said “We are very concerned about the lighting that comes from the site. If it was to become a 24-hour operation it could have a very negative effect on the important population of moths and bats.”

Trevor Broadhurst from Long Rake Spar defended the planning application by saying that they have had a 60% rise in demand for aggregate which is why they have applied to Rother District Council for the 24-hour licence to operate. It was not clear as to whether the 60% rise in demand is directly related to a back-log as a result of lockdown. Residents are concerned that Covid is being used as an excuse to adopt an aggressive pre-meditated expansion policy.

Long Rake Spar has a 7-point environmental policy on its website, including a policy to “apply the principles of continuous improvement in respect of air, water, noise and light pollution from our premises and reduce any impacts from our operations on the environment and local community.” It is hard to see how current practice at their Rye Harbour site adheres to this aspiration.

If you would like to comment on the planning application you can visit the Rother District Council planning portal. The decision will be made at a Planning Committee meeting on 30 September 2020. Local residents have set up a petition objecting to the planning application which can be viewed (and signed) by following this link.

The village church (on the left) is adjacent to the Long Rake Spar plant.

Posted 11:16 Monday, Aug 10, 2020 In: Campaigns

1 Comment

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  1. John Hornig

    Thanks for this Erica! If anyone is interested in objecting to the planning application for 24/7 working, floodlights and unlimited HGV movements (perhaps you’re one of the 400,000 visitors a year to the nature reserve) there are further details on our petition:

    Comment by John Hornig — Monday, Aug 10, 2020 @ 14:26

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