ON August 2, 2004, Hastings Borough Council issued a press release headed “Local Nature Reserve – officially open!”
The inauguration of this Local Nature Reserve should have demonstrated a happy ending for this welcome project but how many residents were aware that the little species rich meadow which sits directly in the centre of this local nature reserve was earmarked for development? And how many are aware that within the current Local Plan it is the intention to remove all the wildlife from this site in order that development can proceed?
This meadow represents a foraging site for these creatures and everyone was under the impression that when the local nature reserve was inaugurated in 2004, this important site had been incorporated into the planned reserve.
In a written report in 1998 the Borough Ecologist informed the council development should be refused because ‘development would destroy an area of semi natural grassland, isolate an area of woodland within a development with corresponding degradation of the habitat, impact upon a range of diversity of wildlife adversely affect the matrix of habitats in the area’.
Despite numerous appeals to the council and over two hundred signatures from locals pleading to save Robsack meadow from development, the council has refused to listen to our grave concerns.
Furthermore, the current proposals have a very sinister agenda: it is the intention to clear the site of all the wildlife and relocate elsewhere. And in order to build the required roadway it will be necessary to fell ancient woodland and sever the wildlife corridor. The animals will lose an important foraging area and the woodlands will be fragmented, isolated and subject to degradation.
And on the momentous day in August 2004, nobody was aware that a swathe of Robsack Wood was not included in the Local Nature Reserve as planning officers had excluded the southern tip of this ancient woodland in order to ‘safeguard’ the roadway into the development.
The proposals defy belief. The animals live in the adjacent woodlands; they use this little meadow as a foraging area – why would anyone wish to remove these protected species from their habitat? This is planning lunacy at its worst.
The Robsack Campaign Group have for the past five-and-a-half years appealed to this council to save this meadow from development but to no avail and we think the time has come for everyone to get together and show this council that we will not accept the devastation of these important woodlands.
Please make your objections known to this council via the consultation now taking place for the new local plan. Our website gives more details on the continuing struggle to save this site. www.robsackmeadow.org.uk.