Shocking extent of destruction

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IT was with both sadness and anger that I viewed the photographs of the construction of the so-called Link Road between Hastings and Bexhill in your issue of April 18.

These photographs reveal the shocking extent of the destruction of a once beautiful and biodiverse area, an area which had its own special ambience of remoteness and tranquillity, and one whose landscape had changed little since mediaeval times.

All that has gone forever, no matter what so-called environmental mitigation is put in place in future. Trees may be planted and wildflower seeds sown, but the mixes to be used are standard with little regard for the diversity of what used to be there.

The landscape is fast becoming unreadable, with any sense of place further eroded by the change of name from the historic Combe Haven (a haven being a place of sanctuary) to the ridiculous Combe Valley (combe means ‘valle’y in Old English).

The area is now labelled a countryside park, but park is the operative word. It is rapidly becoming a tamed and titivated environment compared with what was once there, something that the relentless background drone of traffic that will come with the new road can only make worse.

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) may boast that the road has not intruded onto the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI, a designation that is supposed to mean a nationally important site) but it doesn’t need to in order to ruin the SSSI; habitat fragmentation, nutrient enrichment from car exhausts, and the rubbish that will inevitably follow development, will have done the job in a few years’ time.

I also feel anger because all this destruction has been based on a lot of deception. First, the figures have never stacked up, which is why for a long time government funding was not forthcoming, despite the bleating of local vested interests. They still don’t add up. Second, for a long time it was argued that this road is needed to reduce traffic congestion on the A259 (Bexhill Road), but Barbara Rogers (Letters, April 18) is one of many who has pointed out that its main purpose has always been to open up land in the area for further development.

In addition, and possibly by design, the link road is perfectly placed to ‘justify’ more road development both east and west of Hastings. As Glenn Veness (Letters, April 18) points out, The Ridge is likely to become a permanent traffic jam once the road opens; look out for a revival of a version of the old eastern bypass as a ‘solution’.

Similarly, when traffic jams between Bexhill and Little Common get worse, what sort of ‘solution’ is likely to be proposed?

There were alternative, more sustainable, approaches to both transport needs and economic development than the link road, but a new road was always the starting point for ESCC and it never seriously analysed other ideas. Even with the link road a reality, subsequent destructive development is not necessarily inevitable, but as long as we are governed by those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing I fear it may be.

DR JUDY CLARK

Collier Road