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February 23 2015.

A Local Campaign Is Growing Against These Plans: Newhaven East Quay and Port Expansion Area Development. Planning Application LW/15/0034. Geoff King writes:

Whilst I recognise the importance of sustainable regeneration and employment for Newhaven this must be balanced against the impact it may have on the local environment which, in turn, will impact on the local community. In other words, it cannot be right to allow re development at the cost of everything else.

As a regular daily visitor to Tide Mills I do have grave concerns about so much of Tide Mills being placed ‘out of bounds’ by the proposed harbour development. The resulting buildings and cranes etc. will do very little to enhance the ambiance of Tide Mills. My greatest fear is that we end up with a totally inaccessible beach and foreshore with the way blocked by industrialisation much as the unsightly mess that exists between Bexhill and Hastings.

The sandy beach by the East Arm will also be lost, this is a real tragedy. The harbour expansion proposals will leave us with a very much diminished foreshore. Perhaps this really reflects NPP’s engagement with and commitment to Newhaven in that as well as fighting any access to the West Beach they now plan to destroy the East Pier beach as well.
As to the proposed nature reserve, I don't feel that this is much by way of mitigation. After all, what are NPP offering other than a piece of land that we already have access to. I do appreciate that any wildlife, flora or fauna etc. that migrates to the proposed nature reserve to get away from the proposed harbour development needs to be allowed to flourish in safety.

I am all for sustainable development and for improving the local prosperity by way of trade and employment but any economic benefits must be balanced with the social, environmental and ecological impacts that they may have. Once we have lost this land on Tide Mills it will never be regained. I believe that the town, the local community, the wildlife, flora and fauna will all suffer in the name of supposed progress.

As to the proposed port expansion plans I have the following observations:

The first observation is around the viability of the plan. Newhaven used to have larger cargo ships coming into the port to discharge cargo but that stopped many many years ago now and it must at least 10 years now since the ‘nodding donkey’ cargo crane was dismantled on the East Quay.

The question needs to be asked as to why that cargo trade stopped and Newhaven fell into decline. The answer is that the port did not have then and still doesn’t have now, the road and rail links to make large scale cargo operations viable.
This then leads to the wider question of would we even want to see ‘motorway style’ roads carved out through the South Downs to link Newhaven to the rest of the UK motorway network. I would hope that the answer to that question is NO!!!
So the very viability of this port expansion scheme is a flawed concept from the outset.

The next observation is around the cost to our own local environment of this port expansion plan.

There are three strands to this issue.
The first issue is the actual port expansion itself. This will take up a large area of Tide Mills, a much valued local amenity and wildlife resource. The area adjacent to the East Pier will become a ‘concrete jungle’ of new warehouse’s and offices, lorry and car parks and a quay side with huge cranes.

The second issue I have with the published proposal is that it also takes in the only accessible sandy beach left to local people and visitors alike, namely the area in the corner of Tide Mills next to the East Pier. So, having excluded local people and visitors from the sandy West Beach, NPP now propose to take the other sandy beach away as well.

If NPP had any real commitment to the town of Newhaven and to local people and visitors it would repair the sea wall and re open the West Beach.

The third issue is around the displacement of the wild life that call Tide Mills home. NPP do feature a ‘token’ nature reserve into these plans but that is hardly the answer for destroying a much loved and valued beauty spot and a valued habitat for both flora and fauna.

Then, and not directly linked to the Harbour Expansion Planning Application but a key feature in the destruction of Tide Mills is the proposed new Port Access Road. The proposed site for the roundabout at the harbour end of this proposed new Port Access Road is on Tide Mills adjacent to the corner were the tyre reclamation works are. This proposed new Port Access Road and roundabout will take up an area of Tide Mills as large as the proposed area for the port expansion itself further destroying this valued beauty spot and habitat for the flora and fauna that call Tide Mills home. It will ruin the much valued amenity land for local people and visitors alike.

In short, between the two proposals, the port expansion and the port access road, about half of what we currently know and enjoy as Tide Mills will be destroyed and along with it the flora and fauna that inhabit it.

And all this is ‘for what’?

I am all for progress and sustainable growth both in the local economy and in local jobs but this must be tempered with a concern for our local environment, as once destroyed; it will be gone for ever.

Exponents of these proposals would say that with the proposed offshore wind farm and associated shore based activity that these plans for Newhaven Harbour are justified. However, there is an ever growing debate that would suggest that wind farms are not the ‘all encompassing’ solution to our energy needs and that without huge government subsidies, and that’s tax payer’s money, i.e. our money, these wind farms can never be economic in their own right.

There are also the environmental and ecological issues around destroying so much of Tide Mills. The last time such a large area of Tide Mills was under threat was back in 2010 when it was proposed that the outfall pipe for the new Peacehaven Water Treatment Works be constructed on Tide Mills, Planning Application LW/630/CMS. At that time East Sussex County Council imposed so many environmental and ecological constraints on the proposals that the company concerned abandoned any plans to use Tide Mills for the construction operation.

If those many and varied environmental and ecological constraints were valid in 2010 then they are equally just as valid today.

So to summarise: Progress and growth are very laudable ambitions but not at the expense of our much valued local environment. Tide Mills needs protecting, not destroying!

So rather than just accepting that NPP will expand Newhaven Harbour taking in even more land I believe that the existing crumbling quaysides on the East Quay should be repaired and better utilised thus providing the options for new berthing for shipping.

NPP have much under used land within the current harbour boundary fence. With careful planning, new quayside and new buildings etc. NPP’s port expansion plans could be accommodated within the existing harbour boundary fence.

As for the argument that Tide Mills has long been designated as ‘port expansion land’ that designation is probable 20, 30 or even 40 years old and so out of date in the 21st century when attitudes to the environment have so dramatically changed.

In short, I believe that this harbour expansion plan should not be regarded as inevitable and that it should be opposed.

Pictured above: This is a unique environment, one of only a very few such places along our coastline that is accessible. The Sandy Beach, Shoreline and the land behind the beach should be protected. Don’t allow it all to be destroyed.

Photograph taken at low water on Sunday 22nd February 2015 at 08.00 - ALL THIS WILL BE LOST TO THE PROPOSED NEWHAVEN HARBOUR DEVELOPMENT.

Geoff King
Marine Drive