Monday 8 August 2021
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Photo: Bryophytes rising at North Queensway https://seachangewatch.files.wordpress.com/2021/08/untitled.png
Bryophytes rise up at threatened Hastings nature reserve
SeaChange business park plans would put Marline Valley at risk
Over 50 people braved the rain on 8 August to tell Hastings Borough Council to refuse planning permission for a new business park in the town.
Wearing bryophyte masks to demonstrate some of the species at risk from the proposals , protesters gathered at SeaChange Sussex’s North Queensway site, which adjoins Marline Valley nature reserve and site of special scientific interest (SSSI). They heard speeches about the history and ecology of the site and the lack of sustainability of the proposed build. Cllr Julia Hilton  spoke about her concerns about SeaChange Sussex’s total lack of accountability and transparency, and her attempts to get Hastings Borough Council to scrutinise the company, with a view to winding it up. Three experts on the ecology of Marline Valley were present to take participants on guided walks around Marline Valley.
The planning application  for the 4,000m2 new development has already attracted nearly 200 objections as well as a petition. The proposals include a number of speculative units, to be built on a site right next to Marline Valley.
The development is opposed by Marline Wood leasee Sussex Wildlife Trust  and local renewable energy co-operative Energise Sussex Coast , whilst Natural England has expressed ‘considerable concerns’ about the application . Natural England has also said that there should be no units built on plot 2.1, nearest Marline Valley, because of the risk of runoff of pollutants into the SSSI. SeaChange Sussex has ignored this, saying in its business case for the development  that building less than the full 4,000m2 of units ‘would significantlydiminish the returns to [SeaChange Sussex] that it expects from its investment in the project and so a reduced project option has been discounted’.
Seachangewatch co-ordinator Andrea Needham said, ‘The fact that so many people were willing to come out to Marline Valley in driving rain shows the extent of concern about this proposal locally. The people of Hastings do not want millions of pounds of public money spent on a speculative proposal which threatens a fragile ecosystem and will destroy yet more of our green space. SeaChange Sussex has been trying to market this site for years without success. In 2012, it was claimed this site would create 865 jobs . Nine years later, we’re told it needs a further £3.5m of public money to create just 75 jobs . The whole plan is not just unsustainable, it’s also simply unbelievable. We’re calling on Hastings Borough Council to refuse permission for this destructive white elephant project’.
 Marline Valley’s SSSI designation (https://bit.ly/37J1bNP) is in part because of its extensive collection of bryophytes – mosses and liverworts – including three unusual ‘Atlantic’ species
 Green Party, borough councillor for Old Hastings and county councillor for Old Hastings and Tressell
Contact 07565 967250