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March 26 2014

Geoff King in Seaford’s open letter and his views regarding the proposals for Tide Mills…

As reported in the local press recently, there are proposals for the use of land at Tide Mills for the proposed Rampion Wind Farm which are slowly emerging.

It has been widely-reported in the past that the port of Newhaven had won the role as the maintenance port for the proposed wind farm but it would now appear that the role may be much larger and include the construction phase.
Indeed there is now much debate regarding a possible ‘lay down’ area for the wind turbines on land at Tide Mills and the prospect of large cranes to move these turbines about.

Whilst Newhaven Port should be encouraged to develop its maritime role which may in turn benefit the town and the local economy and local jobs this must be balanced against the implications and costs to the local environment.
It must be recognised that, whilst some local jobs may result from this proposed wind farm project, the vast majority of skilled jobs will go to highly-experienced contractors in this technology who will be brought in for the specific tasks. Thus the much anticipated bonanza in local jobs may not materialise.

All this assumes that the project gets the go ahead. It is now widely accepted that Wind Farm Technology does not produce the claimed energy outputs and is not economically-viable without the huge government subsidies that it currently attracts. Indeed, three such UK wind farm projects have been scrapped in as many months. The wind farms planned for Scotland, the Seven Estuary and the Thames Wind Farm Expansion have all been scrapped.

And so to Tide Mills; a local ‘open space’ beauty spot and an area for local flora and fauna. Indeed, the land is designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance on the boundary of the South Downs National Park.

Much has been written in the past about the land adjacent to Tide Mills village being a ‘brown field site’ and designated as land for ‘port expansion’. My question to those who hold that view is: ‘How long is it before any such land ceases to be a ‘brown field site’? After all, if we followed that argument then all ‘iron age’ and ‘bronze age’ sites would be ‘brown field sites’. My answer is that the land at Tide Mills has been an open space enjoyed by the local population, by visitors; and by the flora and fauna for many, many decades.

Tide Mills area last came under threat in 2010 when it was proposed to construct and weld the outfall pipe line for the new Peacehaven water treatment’s plant on land at Tide Mills. The planning authority at that time placed very many ecological and environmental constraints on that proposal including that the land must be reinstated to its original condition at the end of the project. The company involved with the pipeline project promptly moved the whole project to Shoreham harbour. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions on the reasons for that decision.

So again we now see an industrial threat to land at Tide Mills in the shape of the wind turbines and associated industry. It was reported in the local press recently that a prominent member of the ‘Friends of Tide Mills’ is not personally against this use of the land. Surely that is a contradiction as how can anyone be a ‘Friend of Tide Mills’ and at the same time sanction the destruction of land at Tide Mills.

It is hoped that at the public exhibition planned for April 15th at the Hillcrest Centre in Newhaven that any proposed use of land at Tide Mills for the wind farm project will become a little clearer. It is very important that local people are aware of what might be at stake regarding our local environment as, once this is lost, it may never be reinstated.

So ‘Environment’ or ‘Industry’? The future of Tide Mills may be at stake!!!

Geoff King
Marine Drive