EXPLORATORY DIGGING BEGINS
Substantial trenches (pictured here) have been dug, believed to be investigating potential archeological sites. The appearance of excavating machinery is a chilling reminder of what may be to come on a massive scale.
NEWS ON JUDICIAL REVIEW
We have secured a likely date of the 5th October for a hearing to consider leave for a Judicial Review of the Secretary of State’s conditional award of funding for the Bexhill to Hastings Link Road. We are very hopeful that, by then, we’ll have funds in place to cover our legal costs, though for much of the help we are receiving, legal professionals are acting ‘pro-bono. We are hugely grateful for this.
FAILURE OF ESCC’s LOCAL SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT FUND FOR BEXHILL AND HASTINGS
Further to our last posting on the website (Sustainable Transport for Bexhill and Hastings: Trumped by BHLR), we now understand that the ‘real time’ bus information systems for the two towns, plus walking and cycling infrastructure improvements that were the subject of the bid, could take ‘between 3 and 5 years’ to deliver. IF ESCC gets its way, the BHLR will then have been built thus making sure that the sustainable transport improvements that might eventually appear will suffer from competition from the new road, as will existing bus and rail services. This is anti-sustainable and anti-social transport policy in action, which will lead to a spiral of increasing congestion through increased numbers of local car trips, and worsening accessibility for those choosing sustainable modes, or who have no access to a car.
As we already know, in the 12 year history of the BHLR vanity scheme, no serious attempt has been made by ESCC to fully examine transport alternatives.
BHLR AND JOBS CLAIMS
In a desperate attempt to make the BHLR look less worse, ESCC has quoted many different figures for jobs it expects to follow the construction (destruction!) of BHLR.
These include a figure in its final bid to government of 2,020. But once the jobs taken by those out of area are stripped out (39% – ESCC), the figure falls to 1,220. There is a further assertion that 2,800 jobs could be created via BHLR – by 2026! (our italics).
Interestingly, a figure of almost 2,000 jobs is given for jobs created without BHLR. That chimes with findings of a study carried out for Friends of the Earth by CAG consultants in 2000 which analysed a ‘non-roads’ scenario for job creation. ‘New Jobs without New Roads – sustainable regeneration in Hastings’ suggested that up to 2,557 new jobs could be created in Hastings without the roads proposed at that time.
In the world inhabited by council leader Cllr Peter Jones, however, a series of press releases and media quotes give very different predictions:
21.3.12: ‘… at least 3,000
24.4.12: ‘… when combined with £8.5m loan (i.e. – to be paid back) for ‘Growing Places’, a total of 4,500 jobs will be created’.
23.7.12: ‘… more than 3,000
And the government’s own analysis carried out just 5 months ago? 900 possible jobs. (DfT, March 2012). That’s a lot less than a third of Cllr Jones’ figure.
‘PROTECTED’ WILDLIFE AT RISK
Populations of great crested newts, dormice and bats are being placed at risk through preparations for construction of the BHLR, which is still projected to begin in January 2013, while it is predicted by county council experts themselves that numbers of barn owls will be killed by traffic.
Translocation of great crested newts appears to be a risky business with a history of poor and inconsistent monitoring where practised. A 2010 study for a PhD thesis by Deborah McNeill of the University of Glasgow concluded:
In the UK, translocation is increasingly being used to resolve conflict between great crested newt (Triturus cristatus) conservation and land development. Due to a lack of objective study on the translocation procedure, there remains little evidence of the success of employing this strategy despite widespread implementation.
We know that the dormouse habitats in the valleys will be fragmented and that bats and traffic don’t mix. In terms of protection, the newts, bats and dormice have a status of European importance. Sadly, degradation will follow the road, with car borne litter and noise being certain to introduce an unwelcome polluting and visually offensive characteristic into this tranquil and beautiful refuge.
RALLY IN THE VALLEY 2012
A local group – Combe Haven Defenders – has been launched with the aim of securing the valley for future generations and preventing the BHLR from being built. They are organising this year’s event on the 29th and 30th September. Follow their website and local media for details.