December 8, 2014 by combehavendefenders
Note: if you haven’t objected yet to the Queensway Gateway road, you can still do so. The comments period has officially finished but comments will continue to be accepted until the application is heard by the planning committee, which will not be before 7 January at the earliest. See this post for how to object.
Saturday 6 December was a fantastic day: cold but with bright sunshine. The perfect day for a treedressing event.
People gathered at the base of the big oak in Hollington Valley, which stands right in the middle of the route of the proposed Queensway Gateway road, another unnecessary and destructive road which if allowed to go ahead would eat up yet more of our precious green space.
Meadows and woods, or roads and business parks?
We started with a walk round the valley, a Site of Nature Conservation Importance. The road would cut through woods and meadows, and the associated ‘business parks’ (see this picture – but don’t be fooled by the large areas of green which are in fact ‘development platforms’, ie concrete) would obliterate almost the entire site.
Hollington Valley SNCI. The proposed road would run through the woodland in this picture
Following the walk, we gathered by the big oak near the entrance to the site (off Whitworth Road), which had been decorated earlier in the day by an intrepid treeclimber. We had stories, songs, poems, and plenty of cake and hot soup. We decorated the elder which stands next to the oak, remembering that in folklore, elders were believed to keep away evil spirits (and that witches could turn themselves into elder trees – here’s hoping).
Dreaming about what could be possible…
We also thought about what we would like to do with the £30bn that the government has committed to road spending. The headline figure announced recently was £15bn, but Campaign for Better Transport has pointed out that this only covers Highways Agency roads. When you add in money devolved by government to Local Enterprise Partnerships, plus additional spending on roads in London, you reach the staggering figure of £30bn.
(The money for the Queensway Gateway road would come from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), chaired by – guess who – our old friend Peter Jones, ex-leader of East Sussex County Council, and a man who never saw a road he didn’t love. Some might say that having transport spending decisions overseen by a man who is so clearly pro-road, backed up by a board of unelected and unaccountable members, is not entirely democratic. We couldn’t possibly comment).
‘One of the best wildlife habitats’ in Hastings
It’s worth quoting extensively from the Hollington Valley SNCI designation report, just to be clear what could be lost:
‘The meadow represents one of the few remaining and certainly one of the best examples of this habitat type, with associated habitat complexes, left in the Borough. The rich variety of meadow flowers are the primary food source for an array of butterfly species, insects and moths’.
‘The valley forms a very major wildlife corridor and one of the best wildlife habitats within the Borough. The open meadow area together with the unique carr habitat graduating into woodland with woodland pond make the area not only a valuable wildlife complex but an open countryside experience within the town for local residents….it is essential the SNCI is recognised as an invaluable and irreplaceable habitat of excellent quality and an asset for the people of Hastings to enjoy.’
‘The entire site has obvious potential for management as a community resource where paths, signposts and way marking could contribute to the site. As a large matrix of complimentary habitats, the SNCI has few rivals in the Borough, and the potential for creating and promoting a green network of footpaths for local residents and visitors should be a strong management objective.’
In fact, it would appear that the ‘strong management objective’ referred to above may be to allow the site to be completely destroyed. We hope the planning committee will have the wisdom to see that this ‘invaluable’ site is of vastly more importance than yet another road, and yet more business parks.
(still time to object)