Lack of interest in Country Park

The first section of the coastal path in Kent is now open.

Natural England are working on providing a full coastal path around the country. The section from Eastbourne to Camber is planned for 2017 to 2018.

The coastal path outside Hastings at Ecclesbourne Glen has now been closed for over three years due to a landslip originating in Rocklands Caravan Park.

It is therefore very strange that Natural England have done nothing to ensure that Ecclesbourne Glen is re-opened. The Saxon way used to pass through Ecclesbourne glen following the coast - this has been lost by the landslip. There is now a large poorly signposted diversion away from the coast.

To date Natural England and HBC persist in the false idea that the landslip is caused by cliff erosion and ignore the obvious man-made source of the landslip.

HBC maintain Natural England will not allow any remedial works as the glen is a protected site and remedial works could lose its protected status. Natural England has not said that remedial works cannot be carried out.

The protected status of the glen would not be affected should remedial works be carried out.

In a letter to HBC from Natural England they say: “If the council chooses to allow cliffs to erode at Ecclesbourne Glen, Natural England can support this position as a general principle regarding natural process but it isn’t a requirement under the SSSI. We will continue to work with the council to deliver good management of the Country Park through the Higher Level Stewardship scheme.”

Natural England’s disinterest and lack of understanding of the issues at Ecclesbourne Glen are all the stranger given that much of the money to run the Country Park comes from Natural England via a Higher Level Stewardship grant.

Natural England has been a major provider of grants to HBC for the Country Park since at least 2003. A ten year land management grant at Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve was awarded in late 2013. This grant provides the council with an annual income to undertake specified management tasks at the Nature Reserve.

Save Ecclesbourne Glen do not understand why Natural England have not been involved in the issues at Ecclesbourne Glen. Natural England have not visited the site and appear to be dependent of HBC officers’ views.

Further info on the coastal path is available at www.gov.uk/government/news/natural-england-launches-south-easts-first-section-of-england-coast-path.

Chris Hurrell

On behalf of the Save Ecclesbourne Glen Campaign Group

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