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July 25th, 2018.

Newhaven Town Councillor Steve Saunders writes:

Today will see the decision made at East Sussex County Council, of the planning application for an Aggregate Plant at Newhaven. The scheme has caused a great deal of anger in and around the town and a concerted effort by the Town Council, local people and groups such as CAN (Community Action Newhaven), to galvanise support for the huge list of pertinent and justified objections. Demonstrations have been held, petitions have been raised and letters have been sent, to try and inform the members of the committee about the negative impacts it will have on the regeneration of our town.

The irony that the County Council is seeking financial support for their beleaguered, costly and (many believe) non-sensical Port Access Road from the government, is not lost on the many who have joined the battle to stop this development. A decision to pass the application will bolster the County Council’s business case for the road and the application itself relies on the road access. It is, therefore, not hard to see why people are so angry at how it appears that each party stands to benefit from a positive outcome for the application on Wednesday.

The status of Newhaven as an Enterprise Zone will be sadly affected too, with hi-tech businesses already looking unfavourably at the area. Having recently had an asphalt plant approved for the North Quay and the increasing number of waste and recycling businesses springing up around the existing incinerator, together with the recognised poor air quality and choked traffic infrastructure. Newhaven needs a break.

The new plant offers very little in employment provision for the bulldozing of many acres of land that support rare and varied flora and fauna. The loss of significant marine vegetation and habitat seems to have been given little or no value by officers who are recommending its approval following the applicants’ removal of one of the elements of the scheme. Interestingly the element that would have provided the most significant number of jobs for local people.

The development will have a detrimental effect on the nearby Ouse Valley Mature Reserve and restrict access to one of the last available sandy stretches of coastline at low tide. The noise from the plant will impact on the already suffering nearby residents and the hundreds of potential homeowners within the several approved housing sites on Eastside.

The vision of ‘Clean, Green, Marine’ for regeneration of the town has been (like the development itself) bulldozed into insignificance, by the recommendations of officers at ESCC.

The decision will be made today by Councillors that live miles away from the site. Councillors that will hopefully take the time to read not only the officers’ recommendations but the hundreds of letters, emails and petitions that have been submitted by local people. I hope they pay more than lip-service to local people and make a decision for them, rather than despite them. Newhaven needs regeneration, not destruction.

Let’s hope we can say ‘Thank you!’ to ESCC’s Planning Committee for once, rather than a well-worn ‘shame on you!’.

Steve Saunders
District and Town Councillor for Newhaven Valley Ward.