Show of strength at Hastings road protest

Sunday 27th January 2013

cpt Better Transport L-R CfBT, RSPB, TWT, FoE, Greenpeace, CPREcpt Better Transport L-R CfBTM RSPB, TWT, FoE, Greenpeace, CPRE

Six major environment and conservation group representatives today visited the Combe Haven Valley in Sussex, site of the planned Bexhill to Hastings Link Road.

The heads of Campaign for Better Transport, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and The Wildlife Trusts joined senior colleagues from RSPB and Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to see first-hand the area threatened by the planned road and the impact contractors' works have already caused. 

They met protestors taking part in the high profile campaign against its construction and highlighted the impacts and threats from the Government's forthcoming roads strategy.

Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive, The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“How can The Treasury condone the nation spending £86m on this road scheme?  The Department of Transport’s own cost benefit analysis questions the value for money, even without counting the impact on nature.

“It is a stark irony that Treasury thriftiness saved nature from a number of destructive road schemes proposed by the DoT in the past.  Yet now a reluctant DoT is being pressurised by the Treasury to erode our natural capital with schemes such as this.  The plan to drive a road through the wildlife-rich Combe Haven Valley was successfully opposed by Sussex Wildlife Trust and others in 2001.  The Hastings Link Road will further fragment habitats at the very time we should be joining them up - an intention expressed in the 2011 Natural Environment White Paper. 

"The cost is almost five times the annual cost of the Public Forest Estate.   The annual benefits of the PFE is over £400m a year and is vital to the health and well-being of the nation as well as the natural environment.  An imminent test of the Government’s commitment to anything other than concrete will come when it announces its response to the Forestry Panel later this month.  

“Although the Treasury apparently values concrete more than it does the wildlife, ecosystems, and landscape of this country, The Wildlife Trusts believe this is short-termism at its worst.”

The Hastings Link Road will further fragment habitats at the very time we should be joining them up

Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth, said:

“This road shouldn’t have been approved.  It will lead to more pollution, damage the environment and do little to boost the local economy.  Reviving discredited road schemes like this won’t solve our economic and transport problems – it will simply shift traffic elsewhere. Transport policy must change direction – we need cleaner cars and safe, efficient and affordable alternatives.”

John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK, said:

“If we’re to break our fossil fuel addiction and tackle the threat of climate change, we must stop throwing money at unnecessary road schemes like the Bexhill Hastings Link Road.  Even the Government’s own advisors see the road as a massive waste of taxpayers’ money. We should instead be protecting our natural environment and investing in long-term jobs for local communities.”

Chris Corrigan, RSPB South East Regional Director, said:

“We need to invest in transport and jobs, but we also need to invest in our natural environment.  We don’t have to choose between them -  it is possible to invest in our future in a way that benefits the economy and the countryside.  Our native wildlife and habitats deliver real long-term benefits for our society. Sacrificing them for a quick economic fix is bad news for everyone.”

Ralph Smyth, Senior Transport Campaigner, CPRE, said:

“Once treasured landscapes like Combe Haven are bulldozed, they are gone for ever.  We should be protecting oases of tranquility not covering them in tarmac and traffic.  How can the Government still be propping up this road scheme to the tune of millions of pounds, when even their own advisors have seen straight through the County's elusive claims of economic benefits?"

Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive, Campaign for Better Transport, said:

“National and local Government is planning to spend more than £30bn on 190 major road schemes.  The lesson that new roads don’t solve transport problems has been well and truly forgotten.  Our Roads to Nowhere campaign will be supporting local people fighting all the costly and unnecessary schemes.”

Tagged with: Living Landscapes