With groundworks imminent, the £120m plus Bexhill Bypass comes a step nearer, but road builders Hochtief and Vinci as well as scum-backers Trinity College Cambridge and East Sussex County Council (ESCC) face Diversions Ahead as campaigners gear up for Round Two of protests.
To date there have been four anti-road protest camps set up along the route. The last main one Camp Decoy was evicted after two days of brave and protracted resistance high up in the 100ft trees at the end of January.
With 600 trees on the route now destroyed the work has had to stop for nesting season from March 1 until August 31 (birds and their nests are protected at all times under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. If you can be bothered an anonymous call or two to a Wildlife Crime Officer on 101 about the remaining trees near the route might be worth considering or not as the case may be...). The planned 5.6km single carriageway would cut a huge devastating and irreversible swathe through Combe Haven Valley, one of the most treasured and tranquil stretches of wetlands and reed bed systems in the south east, home to barn owls, lapwings, plovers, bats, badgers, foxes and great crested newts.
As well as the motley crew of direct action resisters, there are two slightly more well-to-do allied campaigns from BLINKRR (Bexhill Link Road resistance) and the Crowhurst Villagers’ Group, consisting of 30-40 members. Dave Howley of the Crowhurst Villagers said: “We have an ecology group which looks at the bats up at Adams Farm and other sightings of rare birds. Also how the holding ponds for the road for example will disrupt the valley habitats.” Michael Bernard of BLINKRR said: “The council have put up bird boxes for barn owls, but that’s been it. In the meantime 1,000-year-old hedges are being destroyed. The Hastings Archeological Group have done the dating work on this. The council has failed to carry out any replacement works and the time lag hasn’t been taken into account.” With the council also misrepresenting the number of rare birds there are in the valley in the first place it seems like, yet again, it’s one way traffic to carmageddon.
Combe Haven Defenders are planning to take on the Department for Transport (DfT) on the 8th and 9th April by searching their offices for hidden documents on the Bexhill Link Road recommendations – the ‘first and the worst’ of over 190 new road projects. BLINKRR is taking matters to the High Court on April 11 for an injunction preliminary hearing to stop the forthcoming road works on the grounds that they will damage the ‘1066 battle site’ and that the council doesn’t have the planning permission anyway.
The council says that the current clearances are ‘non-material’ – yeah right!! What with tree and hedge trashing, and bridge re-workings immaterial might be a better word for the council bullshit. But then this is the same council that’s been put in the dock by it’s own side. Yes the Dept of Transport has stated that the double counting (double-dealing more like) council has overplayed the economic benefits of the road and the cost to benefit ratio is poor. A minor setback has seen government lackeys, English Heritage turn down the argument put forward by BLINKRR that the Battle of Hastings was in Combe Haven . Funny that, who’d have guessed they’d pack their ‘independent panel’ with pro EH supporters who wouldn’t dream of losing a lucrative jewel in their crown – never mind that a pristine piece of heritage is being trashed under their very noses.
See Combe Haven Defenders wordpress site for any updates on April 8&9 Operation Disclosure etc etc.