LETTER: No case at all for this work

Your readers will hopefully already know of Tide Mills, sitting between Newhaven and Seaford, being the last development free open space to the sea for many miles west of Newhaven. At present the whole area is an island of tranquillity and rich in much varied wildlife – a local jewel.

We, the Friends of Tide Mills, and many others, have been looking after the area for over ten years now and are very concerned about East Sussex County Council’s intention to now complete the Newhaven East Side relief road, by constructing a massive heavy traffic road bridge over the railway line and Mill Creek and associated road into Tide Mills. The council is proceeding with this work, which will undoubtedly cost many millions of tax payers money, on the grounds that such a development is required, despite there being no obvious case at all.

Newhaven Port Properties (the landowner), with which we have an excellent working relationship, have to date not expressed any great interest in the ESCC plan. The port has now been given permission to expand, along well-documented and agreed lines – mitigation against loss of open space and conservation value for these plans have now been settled, to a large degree, for which we are very pleased.

ESCC has offered no such mitigation against the massive footprint that the road bridge and road will require – the result of which is going be a significant additional loss of open space and wildlife habitat. The bridge, by virtue of Network Rail now requiring all bridges to cater for the possibility of overhead electric power at some future date, will be very high indeed and obviously as a result, requiring a corresponding massive overall footprint. No specific port access point has yet been agreed, on the ground the only feasible point would appear to be to the south, beach end, of the site, requiring in itself a large footprint.

Another proposal is to allow non-port traffic over this bridge, again, for no current identified reason. In addition to the bridge and road, allowing traffic into Tide Mills will in itself change its peaceful character and charm quite significantly, for ever. We also understand that this road will allow for possible further future development, again a major concern, and as yet, again, for which there are no definitive plans. All in all, this proposal from ESCC to construct a road bridge into Tide Mills is dubious and as far as can be seen a complete waste of significant public funds.

The main intention of the East Side relief road is just that, to reduce heavy traffic from beach road and for that no one can argue, such a road is needed, no question – however to construct a bridge and road, to decimate Tide Mills in this way for no obvious overriding definitive reason, but merely to divert traffic a few hundred metres away from the existing port access point seems absolutely pointless.

We urge ESCC to seriously reconsider this dubious proposal.

Jim Skinner,

Chair of the Friends of Tide Mills