Campaigners call planned £23 million Newhaven Port access road ‘waste of money’
Campaigners are calling for a council to consult with residents over a “secretive and unnecessary flyover” set to be built in Newhaven.
Community group Community Action Newhaven is challenging East Sussex County Council to discuss plans for the Newhaven Port Access Road.
It comes after work started to clear trees on the site near popular wildlife spot Tide Mills nature reserve.
The flyover plan was originally given permission in 1996 and this was later extended.
It is due to cross the Newhaven to Seaford railway line and Mill Creek in Tide Mills at the end of Beach Road. It would continue to Newhaven harbour.
Community Action Newhaven has launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #CleanGreenNewhaven to raise awareness about the scheme and force the council into consulting with the community.
Speaking to The Argus, group spokeswoman Emily O’Brien said: “They’ve cleared the vegetation on the site in anticipation of starting this summer. It meant sending in bulldozers and ripping up wooded areas, and that is what is happening already.
“I think for people who live there it is worrying, as it is an environmentally sensitive area that has a lot wildlife live there.
“The council say that consultation took place in 1996 so is ‘not required’ but that’s ridiculous. That’s over 20 years ago. The National Park, which the flyover borders, didn’t exist. The plans for ‘clean green regeneration’ didn’t exist.
“Some residents weren’t even born. If it’s such a great idea then why are they so afraid to bring this into the open? They need to consult properly on this flyover or they will undoubtedly face public protests. It is scandalous that at a time when cuts are being made to vital public services, so much money is being spent on an unnecessary flyover.
“It will damage the environment and our community, but will benefit private companies like Newhaven Port Authority who own much of the land, and Brett Aggregates, whose proposal to build a concrete plant brought 400 protesters out on the beach just last month.”
Community Action Newhaven says the road was given planning permission to allow for a new ferry terminal, but that scheme has long been abandoned so the road will instead open up a large stretch of unspoilt Seaford Bay to industrial development.
The council confirmed it had carried out vegetation clearance in preparation for the road to be built and hopes to be in a position to start work next summer.
Access road will be a ‘catalyst for regeneration’
East Sussex County Council defended the access road saying it will be “a catalyst for regeneration”.
A spokesman said: “This road will have huge benefits both in improving access for the many existing businesses and residences in the area and in opening up land already allocated for employment use to attract new businesses to the area.
“We believe it will act as a catalyst for regeneration, boosting our economy and creating much-needed jobs for people in the Newhaven area.”
The project is dependent on securing £10 million of additional funding from the Department for Transport on approval of the business case for the scheme, which has not been submitted yet.
Defending the use of the money, it said the remainder of the £23
million cost of the project comes from the county council’s capital programme, which is for one-off projects only.
The spokesman said: “While the port is owned by Newhaven Port and Properties, many different businesses currently operate from the site, while others will be attracted to do so with the new road in place.
“Alternative routes for the road have been looked at over the years, but none delivered the full benefits the approved scheme does in opening up employment space, providing a new access to the port and diverting traffic away from Railway Road and Beach Road.”