Anger as Hastings Council prepares to ‘ignore unlawful pollution’ of £15m new road

November 27, 2015 by combehavendefenders

Press release
Combe Haven Defenders [1]
Thursday 26 November

Contact 07565 967 250

Photo: Hollington Valley, site of proposed Queensway Gateway road


Planning permission quashed once already because of air pollution; council risking further sanctions

Hastings Borough Council (HBC) is preparing to reconsider a planning application for a £15m new road in the town [2], despite documents showing that it will create unlawful levels of air pollution in a Local Wildlife Site. Documents show that the road would bring around 24,000 vehicles a day through the middle of the site [3] , which is described in its designation report as ‘invaluable and irreplaceable’ [4].

Planning permission for the road, the Queensway Gateway, was passed unanimously by the council in February [5] but subsequently quashed by the High Court after a legal challenge by a local resident over the unlawful levels of air pollution it would cause [6]. Since then, the applicant, SeaChange Sussex, has amended the traffic figures, claiming methodological and other errors in the first application, and now claims the air pollution levels at residential receptors are within the lawful limits [7]. However, their own evidence shows that air pollution levels at ecological receptors in the Hollington Valley Local Wildlife Site – through which the road would pass – would be up to 570% above permitted levels [8].

Campaigners have expressed concerns that levels could in fact be even higher because of the recent VW scandal which showed that many cars were emitting 40 times the level of pollutants claimed [9]. ACCON, the environmental consultants employed by HBC, dismissed this possibility, saying that, ‘It is ACCON’s understanding that [the Department for Food and Rural Affairs] have assessed this situation and do not believe that it could result in increased pollutant concentrations based on the prevalence of those specific cars within the overall fleet’ [10].

However, in a court case brought against the government earlier this year, Defra admitted that the real world emission performance of vehicles is higher than in regulatory test cycles [11].

Andrea Needham, spokesperson for Combe Haven Defenders, said, ‘SeaChange Sussex has performed a conjuring trick to get the pollution levels in people’s homes just below the legal limits, but has failed to do the same for pollution levels in the local wildlife site. Hastings Council is desperate for this road and seems to be prepared to ignore this unlawful pollution, which is what got them into trouble the first time. They cannot simply accept SeaChange’s contention that pollution levels in Hollington Valley almost 600% above what is allowed should be disregarded. As far as we can see the revised figures that now supposedly bring the proposal within EU limits simply don’t add up. It is difficult to see how this application if passed again will be in compliance with EU obligations, and the council is therefore risking further legal challenge as well as fines for breaching EU law. ‘

The planning committee will be hearing the application on Tuesday 15 December, 6pm, at the White Rock Theatre in Hastings.

Contact 07565 967 250



[3] – appendix E3

[4] – p45



[7] – p2

[8] – table 10.23, column 4: Nox level at receptor E1 170.9μg/m3. Critical level 30μg/m3.


[10] – point 2.8

[11] – para 21

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