St Leonards artist’s exhibition of woodland ‘destruction’ for controversial road

Emily Johns drawing in Hollington Valley surrounded by security guards SUS-160316-145648001
Emily Johns drawing in Hollington Valley surrounded by security guards SUS-160316-145648001

A St Leonards artist will be showcasing her drawings of an ‘invaluable’ wildlife site as it is ‘destroyed’ for a controversial new road from Monday (May 16).

Emily Johns has been documenting the ‘destruction’ of Hollington Valley over the past year by Sea Change Sussex in preparation for the Queensway Gateway road.

An exhibition of her work, Drawn to Witness, will be at Memorial Gallery on Cambridge Road until May 29.

Emily describes her work as ‘Not your idyllic Springwatch in a Sussex bluebell wood, but an observation of the processes that drive out protected species to prepare the land for tarmac’.

“Hollington Valley, a designated wildlife site, has been sacrificed by Hastings Borough Council (HBC) in order to save car drivers a couple of minutes on their journeys,” she said.

“This once beautiful site has been laid waste by Sea Change Sussex, because the council attaches no importance to biodiversity, to the need for local people to have access to open spaces, to the need to urgently address climate change by discouraging car use.

“I hope that everyone who has supported the Queensway Gateway road and other new roads locally will come and witness for themselves what this obsession with car based transport is doing to our precious green spaces.”

The Queensway Gateway road has a controversial history as it was approved by HBC twice as the first decision was overruled by appeal over pollution issues.

The road was given the green light for a second time in December at a heated planning committee meeting.

Hollington Valley is described in Sea Change’s 2014 site designation report as ‘one of the best wildlife habitats in Hastings’ and ‘an invaluable and irreplaceable habitat of excellent quality and an asset for the people of Hastings to enjoy’.

A Sea Change spokesman said: “The community fully deserves improvements to its local road network – as well as the long-term jobs the creation of new employment sites will bring.

“Most local people are crying out for the Queensway Gateway road link and very much looking forward to it being developed.”

There will be events at the gallery on at 6.30pm on Thursday, May 19, and Thursday May 26, as well as a talk by Emily on The Art of Protest at 3pm on Wednesday, May 25.

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