Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening announced on Wednesday, 14th December, that the decision on the BHLR would be deferred until March. She had this to say in respect of the scheme:
“We recognise the critically important role that transport improvements could play in the regeneration of the Bexhill-Hastings area and the economic case underpinning the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road, though we are also aware of concerns regarding the proposed scheme, including its environmental impact.
Before we take a final decision on the scheme we want to be sure that it offers the best approach for regenerating the area and also to consider other transport options to achieve this, including local trunk roads such as the A21, A259 and local rail. We also want to consider whether further environmental mitigation measures could be deployed to address the impacts of the proposed Bexhill-Hastings scheme.
Over the next three months the Department will work alongside the scheme’s promoters and other local and regional partners to gather further evidence on the optimal solution for the area. We would intend to make a decision swiftly thereafter.”
For us this deferment was a huge relief and on its own, appears to justify our hard and constructive campaigning work over the last decade and a half.
We look forward to the dialogue in the months ahead and have already begun to explore the whole range of measures that we believe could contribute to the ‘optimal solution’ for the area.
We are certain that the promoters’ long term singular focus on the BHLR has obscured the real potential for the showcase sustainable transport package that Bexhill and Hastings deserve. There are exciting opportunities to give the two towns an enviable integrated transport system equal to, or better than the best in the UK, and we look forward to playing a part in identifying these. We sincerely hope that the historic ‘BHLR mantra’ is a thing of the past, where it belongs.